Islamabad: Raja Pervez Ashraf of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), a former federal minister in the government of ousted prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, was Friday elected the country’s 25th prime minister by 211 votes to 89 by a special session of the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.
Sardar Mehtab Abbasi of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) got 89 votes, Geo News reported.
The prime minister’s post became vacant after the Supreme Court disqualified Gilani with effect from April 26 after his conviction for contempt of court for refusing to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Tipped earlier as a cover candidate, Ashraf was Thursday named the main candidate for following the issue of a non-bailable arrest warrant against the previous contender Makhdoom Shahabuddin.
Shahabuddin’s name was dropped after an anti-narcotics court Thursday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him in an illegal drugs quota case.
President Asif Ali Zardari Friday evening congratulated Ashraf on his win, and said his election as prime minister was “an indication of the nation’s confidence in democracy”, Dawn News reported.
Ashraf – former minister for water and power, and information and technology – was Friday morning officially declared as the joint candidate for the post of prime minister by the PPP and its allies, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
Speaking to the media alongside Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader Chaudhry Pervaz Elahi, Ashraf said his main priority would be to deal with and overcome the energy crisis in the country.
As the National Assembly session began, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who was also a prme ministerial candidate, appealed to the speaker to adjourn the proceedings due to the death of member Fauzia Wahab.
PPP member Naveed Qamar said the session was an important one and could not be adjourned, as the election of the prime minister was imperative to run the business of the government.
Following this exchange, Rehman announced his party would not be voting in the election and that he was withdrawing his candidature.
Earlier, the nomination papers of PPP’s Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Qamar Zaman Kaira were also withdrawn.
Opposition members also shouted slogans like “What was the price?” targeting the JUi-F chief.
Earlier in the day, PPP leader Khursheed Shah met Rehman at his residence to request the JUI-F chief to withdraw his candidature from the prime ministerial election.
On Thursday night, the PPP and its coalition partners, at a meeting chaired by Zardari, authorised the PPP to name the next prime ministerial candidate.
During the meeting attended by leaders of the PML-Q, the MQM and the ANP, the allies unanimously approved the name of Ashraf for the post, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
Gilani was also disqualified as member of the National Assembly from the NA-151, Multan constituency. By-elections for the seat that fell vacant will be held July 19.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.