LAHORE - President Asif Ali Zardari has constituted a five-member committee headed by party’s former Punjab President, Qasim Zia, to recommend potential candidates for 13 national and 27 provincial seats from Lahore.

The committee, which comprises three former Lahore presidents and the existing one, has also been mandated to hunt electables and arrange their meetings with the top leadership for their inclusion into the party. The members include: Qasim Zia (Convenor), Samina Khalid Ghurki, Mian Misbahur Rehman, Aslam Gill and Haji Azizur Rehman Chan.

At the provincial level, a committee headed by Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo has also been constituted for central Punjab. Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, Raja Riaz and Tanvir Asharf Kaira are its members. Parliamentary boards at the federal and provincial levels are also there for the purpose.

It merits mention here that another committee comprising Mian Misbahur Rehman, Aslam Gill, Haji Chan and headed by Samina Ghurki is already active in Lahore to find electables for the coming elections.

In 2008 general elections, the performance of PPP candidates in Lahore was far from satisfactory. It had then managed to win two national out of total 13 and one provincial seat out of 27.

Senior PPP leaders think that party leadership would have to look for strong candidates for at least six constituencies in the City which included NA-119, NA-120, NA-123 NA-126, NA-127 and NA-128. As per sources, Bushra Aitzaz and Haji Imdad, a former MPA and having association with PML-N and PML-Q in the past, are the only new faces so far the party is considering to field in the coming polls from Lahore.

It has been learnt that PPP leadership has decided to invite applications from prospective candidates without any further delay, so that candidates get enough time to have liaison with the voters.

It is also considering to get feedback from zonal presidents on the new candidates.

“Finding potential candidates from Lahore is really a big challenge for the PPP which had been losing Lahore battle for the last over two decades; and now, it would be going to the elections without addressing the crucial problem of power outages and scarcity of natural gas,” commented an old PPP guard while talking to this scribe, who also said that by and large the party would have to rely on its existing horses in the absence of stronger ones.