Islamabad, June 22 (Xinhua-ANI): Pakistan’s ruling party Friday named Raja Pervez Ashraf as its candidate for the slot of prime minister, said a spokesman for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
PPP Spokesman Khurshid Shah said at a press conference held here in the Parliament House on Friday morning that that the nomination of Pervez Ashraf was finalized in a high-level meeting chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari and attended by leaders of allied groups late Thursday night.
He said that the PPP had three nominations and the allied parties had empowered the PPP to make any decision and they would endorse any one.
Raja Pervez Ashraf had emerged as a strong candidate after a judge ordered the arrest of the PPP first candidate Makhdoom Shahbuddin in a corruption case.
He said President Zardari had also consulted PPP leaders on the nomination of Ashraf, a former minister and senior PPP leader. He said the PPP avoided any clash with the judiciary after Gilani was disqualified as prime minister for continuation of democracy.
PPP and its allies had earlier nominated Makhdoom Shahabuddin for the slot, but his name was dropped after a local anti- narcotics court issued an arrest warrant for his alleged involvement in a corruption case.
An Anti-Narcotics Court’s judge on Thursday issued a warrant for the arrest of Shahabuddin for misuse of his power as minister for health to grant excessive quota of a chemical used in a controlled drug shortly after Shahabuddin submitted his nomination papers to the National Assembly secretariat.
The arrest warrant caused huge embarrassment for the PPP and its allies and President Zardari summoned an emergency meeting of the senior leaders of the allied groups and decided to field another candidate and Raja Pervez Ashraf emerged as a favorite.
Ashraf, a PPP loyalist and former minister for water and power, had filed nomination papers as a covering candidate for Shahabuddin. Another senior PPP leader and former information minister Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira had also submitted nomination papers after the arrest warrant was issued for Shahabuddin. Kaira will withdraw nomination papers following PPP’s announcement of its candidate for new prime minister on Friday.
Ashraf would become the 17th prime minister in the country should he pass the election scheduled to be held at the National Assembly later on Friday evening.
Local media reported that prior to the final selection of the PM candidate by PPP and its allies, a major allied group had suggested the president nominate Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira as candidate for the office as Raja Pervez Asharf is also facing some corruption charges. (Xinhua-ANI)