Accepting verdict, PPP begins hunt for new PM

Published: June 20, 2012
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An emergency meeting of coalition partners was held in the Presidency on Tuesday.PHOTO: APP

An emergency meeting of coalition partners was held in the Presidency on Tuesday.PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: 

Surprisingly, confrontation does not seem to be the option the embattled government has opted for. It has opted, instead, for pragmatic planning after two emergency meetings – first of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)’s Central Executive Committee and then of the leaders of coalition partners.  

Hours after the country’s top court rendered the longest-serving elected prime minister of Pakistan disqualified, it was finally decided to elect a new prime minister to replace Yousaf Raza Gilani. Consequently, a crucial National Assembly session for the vote is expected within the next couple of days.

While speculation is rife, no official confirmation has come on the candidate. Leaders of coalition partners empowered President Asif Ali Zardari to nominate anyone from his party to become the next premier and assured him of their full support for the elections, likely to take place on Thursday.

Top leaders from the allied parties decided not to go into confrontation with the judiciary and the verdict was accepted despite private reservations on it. Gilani, after being apprised by the legal team, refused to go for an intra-court review of the decision – and a presidential pardon for Gilani was also decided against.

The new PM

A participant of the high-level huddle told The Express Tribune that some names were discussed at the meeting but the final decision would be taken at the parliamentary party meeting of the ruling party when it meets today (Wednesday evening).

According to media reports, during the day, some stalwarts from PPP were being considered as replacement for Gilani. The most probable among them was Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a party leader from southern Punjab.

South Punjab, or the Seraiki belt, is the region the PPP is targeting for the upcoming general election — making the candidature of Shahabuddin stronger and giving him an edge over other contenders. An insider told The Express Tribune that Shahabuddin’s name had been finalised and none of the government allied groups raised any objections to it.

Water and Power Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar was the other candidate to be the next prime minister for the remaining nine months of the PPP’s tenure, scheduled to end by March next year. Mukhtar was a strong candidate for the premiership after the PPP won the general election back in 2008, but could not make it to the top slot. Hailing from Gujrat district of central Punjab, Mukhtar is considered to be an arch-rival of the leadership of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) — the largest of PPP’s allied group. He won against PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in 2008 in one of the most closely-fought contests.

Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah, a PPP diehard from its stronghold of Sindh, was also in the limelight for the top slot — with some officials claiming that he was being backed by a majority of the party. But the problem with Shah’s selection is that the PPP can not afford to give all the important slots to the same province.

Some media reports suggested the PML-Q was lobbying for former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. But a participant stated that, neither was his name considered, nor did the party push for it.

No early elections

According to insiders present at the meeting, the president had ruled out any possibility of calling for fresh parliamentary polls at any cost, saying he would not bow down to the forces out to derail the democratic system.

“I know democracy is under threat from all sides but [no one can] force us to hold early elections. I will not run from the battleground,” an insider quoted Zardari as telling the leaders of allied parties.

“Over my dead body… As long as I live, nobody can force us to dissolve the government even a day ahead of our term,” Zardari said in a defiant tone, insinuating that his party members should be well prepared for a long political and legal battle.

CEC meeting

Earlier in the day, the president held emergency talks with central leaders of the PPP.

“Though we have reservations about this judgment, we will take advice from the allied parties and legal experts and will then chalk out a strategy for the future,” Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters after the meeting.

“The Central Executive Committee has advised all party workers to remain calm and show patience and not to protest against the verdict,” he added. Asked whether the PPP was considering a presidential pardon for Gilani, the information minister said “no such suggestion is under consideration”.

PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badar said the party’s executive committee had given Zardari “complete authority… to take any decision after taking advice from the allied parties”.

(Read: A judicial coup?)

Published In The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Mirza
    Jun 20, 2012 - 6:07AM

    The next PM should be from Punjab. It would be great if it were Dr. Aitizaz Ahsan, however it looks like the PPP is going to go to the same south Punjab area. It is a shame that the institutions cannot get along and the egos got the better of them. Every elected govt without fail has been dismissed with the connivance of SC. Generals alone are not responsible from hanging ZAB to the PCO judges. Here is an article that covers recent happenings as if nothing has changed in Pakistan in half a century. This also shows how East Pakistan was forced to leave the federation.
    http://dawn.com/2012/06/12/institutions-should-work-in-harmony-tamizuddin/

    Recommend

  • vacancy
    Jun 20, 2012 - 6:21AM

    Vacancy open for new Prime Minister of Pakistan:

    Perks: palace for accomodaiton, all expenses paid, naukar chakar, limos, no loadshedding, 24/7 security and electricity, free roti kapra makaan

    Requirements: AAZ loyalists; be ready for bullying from PCO judges

    Recommend

  • Shakib
    Jun 20, 2012 - 6:46AM

    Hina Rabbani Khar!

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    Jun 20, 2012 - 6:53AM

    Very wise decision by President.

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  • Imran
    Jun 20, 2012 - 7:20AM

    Demonstrates the respect of constitution and judiciary that PPP holds supreme, even though the judiciary has been very hostile and extremely vindictive of the PPP and its leadership. In this course, the successive judges have repeatedly flouted the public opinion, and have colluded with the northern/central Punjab based ruling establishment to blatantly undermine the constitution.

    Recommend

  • Dr.A.Tewari
    Jun 20, 2012 - 8:32AM

    Now the seat of Zardari is also not safe . PCO judges are adament to toppel the govt.
    The govt. Should expedite the familygate case to expose the CJ .

    Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jun 20, 2012 - 9:20AM

    A common man in the country has no interest as what is going on the political landscape.

    No matter who comes and goes, the miseries of the people will not be reduce in any case.

    PPP got a sympathy vote after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, otherwise the whole bunch of PPP was not capable to run the government and the nation has seen during the last four years how much capable they are.

    Recommend

  • concerned citizen
    Jun 20, 2012 - 9:30AM

    obviously they won’t confront anymore since they got what they wanted;

    to allocate the new budget in their favor (looting spree 2012/13)

    to close the swiss case chapter

    and probably much more

    Recommend

  • John
    Jun 20, 2012 - 10:19AM

    Just nominate anyone.. won’t make a penny difference on the common man. Sadly ordinary citizens are fast getting disconnected with this musical chair show.

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  • asim
    Jun 20, 2012 - 10:57AM

    Ruling class- chips of the same box.

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  • A J Khan
    Jun 20, 2012 - 11:11AM

    The decision is administratively correct, Politically provoked and legally inaccurate. 

    Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Jun 20, 2012 - 11:30AM

    President Zardari this is much the best for you that now you should announce the date for next general elections because this is much the best time for you instead of selecting new PM to avoid yourself once again from any new expected clashes with Supreme Court because the new PM shall also be told/ordered by Supreme Court to write the letter to the Swiss authorities against you and your foreign bank’s accounts’ details and as usual you shall deny and once again a new season of clashes between you and Supreme Court shall be restarted and as usual you shall resist.

    Recommend

  • Shaheer Malik
    Jun 20, 2012 - 12:52PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:

    PPP is not sincere even with its own leader Benazir Bhutto. Her killers nowadays are found in its party.

    Recommend

  • Khalq e Khuda
    Jun 20, 2012 - 1:57PM

    Dear Mr President,

    The PPP workers from central Punjab deserve the Prime Minsitership. We are fighting the toughest battle for the PPP and have to suffer daily attacks on account of PML-N which has now even resorted to attacking houses and shops in PPP dominated areas of Punjab. Let alone the normal workers now our elected representatives are not safe and being targeted by terrorists of Punjab government!

    Please pick Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Qamar Zaman Kaira or Samina Khalid Ghurki for Prime Minister!

    Jeay Bhutto!

    Recommend

  • Truth Bites
    Jun 20, 2012 - 2:06PM

    Gilani and PPP should have accepted the judgement on April 26th and could have gracefully change the prime minister. 30 second sentence was symbolic because consequances were great, that was crux and failing to appeal against it was a last nail in Gilani’s PMship!

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  • naughty pakistani
    Jun 20, 2012 - 2:11PM

    Hina Rabbani Yo

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  • dr j tipu
    Jun 20, 2012 - 3:02PM

    so who is the next corrupt from PPP to be the PM?

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  • usman
    Jun 20, 2012 - 8:10PM

    why zardari handpick PM? Why not an internal PPP vote? how come no democracy inside the party? hypocrites.

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  • Suhail
    Jun 20, 2012 - 8:36PM

    The constitution or law is not about what one wants or wishes. This is a written code, so don’t try to poke your nose where you don’t have the authority. Actually this is the problem of Pakistan where everyone tries to be an intellectual despite the fact that whether it is a no go area for him/her. Hence he/she turns out to be a pseudo intellectual. The progression requires tolerance and here every one wants that the institutions whether Supreme Court or Parliament comply with their wishes.
    However, the judicial hyper activism never allows running democracy freely, no matter how bad it is. It’s a gradual process; try to bring change by casting your votes. Judges are not public representatives; their duty is to provide justice between two parties. I wonder when judiciary itself becomes a party on one side, how the reason for existence of an independent judiciary will hold out?

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  • Avatar
    Jun 22, 2012 - 2:01AM

    Makhdoom Shahab is the best choice.

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