PPP names Gillani for prime minister

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) yesterday named Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani as its candidate for the office of prime minister.

By Afzal Khan (Our correspondent)

Published: Sun 23 Mar 2008, 8:29 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:48 PM

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari made the formal announcement in a statement read out by party spokesman Farhatullah Babar to the Press. Asif sifted the final name out of a host of contenders after some intense consultations within the party and with his coalition partners in the forthcoming government.

The statement did not say whether Gillani will act as a stand-in prime minister for an interim period before Zardari himself surmounts constitutional hurdles including election to the National Assembly to qualify for the job. Answering questions, Babar said the statement is clear and does not say that Gillani will be interim prime minister.

Election for the prime minister will be held tomorrow while the newly elected premier will be administered |oath |of office by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday. The cabinet ministers will be installed some time later.

The frontrunner and PPP vice-chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim who conducted an aggressive campaign to stake his claim to the post as the longest lasting member of the party heard the announcement in Karachi, apparently disgruntled by his omission amid suspicions of close links with President Musharraf. Fahim has promised to spell out his future plans after the formal announcement.

Fahim in a brief statement from Karachi said he accepted the decision by the party and would return to Islamabad tomorrow “only to vote for my fried Yousaf Raza Gillani”. He said he will never quit the party and would continue to work for its strength and success.

“I knew long ago that I will not be nominated,” Fahim said while declining to spell the reason why he was dropped. He has said he will not accept any other office.

The issue was clinched by a last minute dramatic announcement by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to vote for PPP candidate and withdraw its parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar, who was named as contestant for the post by the combined opposition. Zardari reportedly upstaged Fahim from aligning with MQM by slicing away some loyalist PPP members to form the government in Sindh.

Earlier it was announced that 19-year-old PPP co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would declare the name but party leaders later said Bilawal was indisposed and could not come out to talk to press.

Yousaf Raza Gillani (52) is scion of one of the two prominent feudal families of Multan - Gillanis and Qureshis - who have dominated politics of the region for decades, often in rival camps. His father, Syed Alamdar Hussain Gillani, was a member of the initial federal cabinets of Pakistan after independence.

Yousaf Raza joined Pakistan Muslim League in late 1970s and was first elected MP in 1985 partyless elections and served as cabinet member in Junejo government. After the death of Gen. Ziaul Haq in 1988, he joined the PPP and defeated Nawaz Sharif, then chief minister Punjab, on a Multan suburban seat. He became housing minister in Benazir Bhutto’s first government. In the second PPP government in 1993, Gillani was elected speaker of the National Assembly. He lost election in 1997 and was arrested in 2001 by Musharraf regime and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on charge of providing jobs to his constituents and others in abuse of his authority. He was released by a superior court last year.

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