ISLAMABAD: Syed Khursheed Shah, in a press conference with coalition leaders announced that Raja Pervez Ashraf will be the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate for the prime minister’s post.
“The final decision was taken in collaboration with our coalition partners,” Khursheed Shah said.
Among other coalition representatives, Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) senior member Sardar Bahadur Ahmad Khan Sehar, Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Haider Abbas Rizvi and Awami National Party (ANP) leader Afrasiab Khattak were present at the press conference.
Earlier, MQM sources had said the party had conveyed reservations to President Zardari over the candidature of Ashraf.
Ashraf has been elected twice from NA-51, Gujjar Khan.
He was appointed federal minister for water and power after the 2008 elections and was again appointed a minister in the recently-dissolved cabinet.
He faces corruption allegation for receiving kickbacks in rental power projects and buying properties in London.
The Supreme Court had also directed NAB to take action against Ashraf for his alleged involvement in rental power case.
The ruling PPP and its allies first submitted nominations for Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Ashraf, but later Qamar Zaman Kaira also filed his papers when a lower court issued arrest warrants against Shahabuddin for his alleged involvement in the ephedrine scam.
Ashraf’s top priority to deal with energy crisis
Ashraf said that his top priority, after assuming the prime minister post, would be to deal with the ongoing energy crisis. He was speaking to the media in Islamabad on Friday.
“I am well aware of the ongoing energy crisis. I had a meeting with party leaders and we decided that we will deal with it as our number one priority,” added Ashraf, who has been christened as ‘Raja Rental’ among the masses because of his involvement in the Rental Power Plants scam.
“I have come here to thank Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Pervaiz Elahi. I’m sure this alliance government, under collective wisdom, will deal with all challenges.”
Pervaiz Elahi, also present at the press briefing, said that all coalition parties have unanimously decided to vote for Ashraf during the National Assembly session.
Ashraf thanks Altaf Hussain for support
Ashraf spoke to MQM chief Altaf Hussain on Friday to thank him for supporting his candidacy.
According to a statement issued by the MQM, Ashraf told Hussain that like him, he too was from the “grassroots”. The MQM chief told Ashraf that the country currently faced a great deal of challenges and hopes that he can help the country face these.
Hussain said that he was happy that Ashraf had worked his way up in the PPP, and said that loyalty to the party was a fundamental principle and that this was the way to earn respect and honour. Former interior minister Rehman Malik also spoke to Hussain and thanked him on behalf of President Asif Ali Zardari for his support to the PPP.
PPP MNA to boycott NA session
Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Syed Nasir Ali Shah will boycott today’s elections for the next Prime minister in the National Assembly.
“I will not vote for MNA Raja Pervaiz Ashraf…a candidate of PPP for the prime minister’s slot,” Nasir told The Express Tribune. “I will not attend today’s session electing the new prime minister.”
Responding to a question, he said that the only criterion for top slot in Pakistan is that “you must be a corrupt person”. Unfortunately, he said, his party (PPP) is promoting this trend.
Shah, a PPP senior leader from Balochistan, also boycotted the presidential speech held earlier this year.
“I hope … my ‘silent protest’ will trigger a powerful debate on the Balochistan issue at an international level,” Shah told The Express Tribune. “I must say here today — PPP’s top leadership buried the party’s manifesto the day Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.”
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