The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has ramped up its efforts to find a replacement for President Asif Ali Zardari.
According to sources privy to developments, it has so far shortlisted three names for the prized post – that of prime minister’s adviser Sartaj Aziz, former provincial governor Mamnoon Hussain and former chief justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui. However, Aziz’s chances of being nominated appear slim, they added.
“If we consider party affiliation, Mamnoon Hussain would be the party’s candidate of choice. But if we look at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s preference, then Justice (retd) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui would emerge as the candidate for president,” a senior PML-N official told The Express Tribune.
Another senior party leader and senator maintained that Hussain’s chances of running for president were higher. However, he said the party leadership wants to keep Sartaj Aziz as the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs and national security.
According to the PML-N senator, the key to the candidate’s selection lies with Prime Minister Nawaz.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that the new president of the country would come from a smaller province in a conscious effort to end the sense of deprivation among the people.
Since President Zardari’s tenure is set to expire on September 8, the Election Commission has announced August 6 as the date of the presidential election.
The PML-N government, however, has requested the poll body for a change in the election schedule.
“We have asked Khursheed Shah [to support us in requesting] a change in the schedule of presidential elections as well,” a PML-N official told The Express Tribune. But Shah’s response, according to the official, was ‘bewildering’.
“Shah said the election could be held five days after the presently scheduled date… this is impossible according to constitutional provisions,” he maintained.
The PML-N leader said that party had asked ECP to schedule the election for July 30 instead of August 6, which coincides with the 27th of Ramazan. “The ECP has refused our request for the time being.”
According to sources, Prime Minister Nawaz wants to spend the last 10 days of Ramazan in Saudi Arabia. This, they say, is why the PML-N is asking ECP to revise the schedule for presidential elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.