ISLAMABAD: Former Federal Textile Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin’s name has been finalised by President Asif Ali Zardari as the Prime Ministerial nominee, Express News reported early Thursday morning.
Senior Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Raja Pervez Ashraf will file his nomination papers as a covering candidate.
Both will submit their nomination papers on Thursday.
According to Express News, Zardari disclosed Shahabuddin’s name during a meeting with a delegation of parliamentarians from Fata led by Hameedullah Jan Afridi. The President asked the delegation for their support in favour of Shahabuddin during the elections on Friday.
The president finalised the former textile minister’s name after unanimous consensus was reached among coalition partners and PPP Parliamentary members. They had earlier reposed full confidence in the president for deciding on candidates for the new prime minister.
Some of the other names believed to have come under consideration were that of senior PPP leader and former Water and Power Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar and former Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah.
PML-N to field candidate?
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has also decided to back Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, provided their coalition parties also decide to throw their weight behind the PML-N candidate.
New Deputy Prime Minister post?
Earlier in the evening on Wednesday, the PPP Parliamentary Party members meeting at the presidential palace had also discussed the creation of a post of Deputy Prime Minister. Since the Constitution has no provision for such a post, a presidential ordinance would be required for its creation. Though an approval from the Parliament will be sought, Express News reported late Wednesday night.
Rumors are rife that senior Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi is being considered for the post and has been asked to rush back from London, where he has been receiving medical treatment.
Sources say that the need for the post arose in light of the fact that any new elected prime minister might face the same fate as Gilani. In the absence of an incumbent, the Deputy Prime Minister would be required to ensure that state of affairs continue without disruptions.
It is expected that the new premier will be directed by the Supreme Court to write a letter to the Swiss government, asking them to re-open the graft case against President Zardari.
‘Election early next year’
In the meeting President Zardari had said that it has accepted the Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify the Prime Minister and said that general elections will be held early next year.
Addressing the meeting he had said the ruling party did not want confrontation among state institutions and will continue to work for strengthening democracy in the country.
Zardari said decision to nominate new Leader of the House in National Assembly will be taken in larger national interest and in consultation with the coalition partners.
President said the PPP accepted judgment of the Supreme Court despite its reservations and for the sake of democracy. He said next general elections will be held after eight months.
Parliamentary Party members reposed full confidence in leadership of President Zardari and authorised him to nominate new Leader of the House.
Former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who also attended the meeting said he worked according to the Constitution and the law. “I would continue to serve the masses and the country to the best of my capacity. I remained loyal to the party.”
Gilani had been disqualified as prime minister by the Supreme Court while hearing an appeal against the Speaker National Assembly ruling that the former prime minister’s membership of the house was not void following conviction, and summary sentencing for contempt of court. Gilani was adjudged to have committed contempt by disregarding SC orders to write letters to the Swiss courts to reopen cases closed under the national reconciliation ordinance (NRO).