Islamabad: Pakistan’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, will elect the new prime minister at a special session to be convened Friday. Minister for Textiles Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Minister for Water and Power Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar are strong contenders for the post.
Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah, a senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), told media the parliament session would begin Friday at 5.30 p.m., while nomination papers would be submitted Thursday, Geo News reported.
Earlier, it was reported that PPP leaders have picked Shahabuddin for the office of the prime minister.
Sources told Geo News the decision was taken at a meeting of party leaders held late Tuesday under the chairmanship of President Asif Ali Zardari.
However, the final choice for the post would be announced after a PPP parliamentary party meeting later Wednesday.
Shahabuddin is a member of the National Assembly from Rahim Yar Khan while Mukhtar represents Gujrat constituency — both in Punjab province. Mukhtar was formerly the defence minister.
However, Gilani expressed reservations over the choice of Shahabuddin during the meeting of coalition partners, who entrusted Zardari to nominate the new prime minister.
The name of Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur was also mentioned at the PPP meeting held Tuesday night.
Dawn News said Zardari also suggested the names of young Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Khursheed Shah for the post.
The Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that Gilani stood disqualified as prime minister as well as member of parliament since the apex court’s April 26 verdict holding him in contempt of court for refusing to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against Zardari.
A three-member bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry heard a set of constitutional petitions challenging National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza’s ruling that despite conviction for contempt of court Gilani could continue as the prime minister.
A seven-member bench of the apex court had convicted Gilani April 26 of contempt of court. The court, however, sentenced him only “until the rising of the court”, or till the time the judges left the court chamber. That was only for about 30 seconds after the verdict was handed down.