ISLAMABAD: The race for the next prime minister has taken an interesting turn, with three members of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) filing nomination papers and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) also fielding their own candidate. The Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) candidate has also filed nomination papers.
Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf filed their nomination papers for the PPP. JUI-F chief Maualana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N’s Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi have also filed their nomination papers.
An Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) Magistrate had earlier issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Makhdoom Shahabuddin.
The speaker will scrutinise the nominations in the presence of the candidates, their proposers and seconders within an hour after the nominations are filed to her office.
Voting for the new prime minister will take place at 5:30 pm on Friday.
In brief remarks at the national assembly, Shahabuddin showcased his loyalty by thanking Zardari and extending greetings to members of the PPP on the birthday of his late wife.
"I am thankful from the bottom of my heart (to Zardari)," he told reporters.
"Today is a special day because it is Benazir Bhutto's birthday and I send my congratulations on this birthday to all party workers," he added.
The Awami National Party (ANP) has announced its support for PPP candidate Makhdoom Shahabuddin and says that all 13 party representatives will vote for him on Friday.
The unanimous decision was taken during a parliamentary party session in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday.
Also speaking to the media separately, the JUI-F chief said that his party was aware of their numbers in the assembly, but the PPP and PML-N should think over their decisions. He added that the current condition of the PPP could push the country towards a martial law.
Both Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) have been in talks with coalition and opposition parties. The PML-N has reached out to other parties in Parliament to garner support against the ruling party.
Under the Constitution, only a Muslim member of the National Assembly can contest for the office of prime minister, and has to be elected by a majority of the 342-member lower house of parliament, which comes to 172 votes. The PPP-led coalition enjoys a comfortable majority to secure the votes for its candidate to get elected.