Talk of who will be the next prime minister of Pakistan has spread like wildfire ever since Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified from the post by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had called a core committee meeting as soon as the court verdict was announced and decided to consult all coalition parties before setting an agenda.
President Asif Ali Zardari has summoned a session of the National Assembly at 5:30pm on June 22 (Friday). The new prime minister is expected to be elected during the session.
“The leader of the house (prime minister) will be elected in the new session of the national assembly,” Qamar Zaman Kaira told AFP.
Gilani’s lawyer and PPP member Aitzaz Ahsan said the new prime minister would be “a nice person and loyal to the party”.
The session of the PPP parliamentary committee held on Wednesday handed over the authority to the president to select the new premier. No particular name for the post emerged during the meeting, however, Zardari said that no matter who the new premier is, he will not let a 'trial be done of Benazir Bhutto's grave'.
As the meeting of the PPP and the coalition parties continued, many names for the post had emerged.
Ahmed Mukhtar, who was holding the power and water ministry before the cabinet was dissolved, is a strong candidate for the post of the prime minister.
Talking to the media on Tuesday, Mukhtar said that he had heard he was being made the prime minister.
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.
Sardar Mehtab Abbasi
Express News reported on Wednesday that Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to put forward Sardar Mehtab Abbasi's name after consulting with the coalition parties.
The PML-N, which has been protesting against the ruling government, had earlier announced that it will not nominate any candidate for the post.
Makhdum Shahabuddin, a PPP leader from southern Punjab, is also among the strongest candidates.
An insider had told The Express Tribune that Shahabuddin’s name had been finalised and none of the government allied groups raised any objections to it.
Correction: An earlier version of this article had incorrectly mentioned the date for Friday as June 20. The correction has been made.
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