Pakistan’s ruling party on Friday named Raja Pervez Ashraf as its candidate for the slot of Prime Minister, a spokesman for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said.
Spokesman Khurshid Shahsaid that the name 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.
Parliament will elect new Prime Minister after the Supreme Court disqualified Yusuf Raza Gilani for contempt on Tuesday.
“I want to announce the name of Raja Pervez Asharf on behalf of the PPP and its allies,” Khurshid Shah said at a news conference.
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 name 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.
The PPP and its allies had earlier nominated Makhdoom Shahabuddin for the slot but his name was dropped after an anti-narcotics court issued arrest warrant for his arrest in a corruption case.
The Anti-Narcotics Court’s judge issued warrants 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.
President Asif Ali Zardari had nominated Shahabuddin to be the country’s next prime minister after hectic consultations with the leadership of his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and allies.
The arrest warrants were coincided with submission of nomination papers by Shahabuddin in the National Assembly secretariat.
The arrest warrants 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 the most favourate was Raja Pervez Ashraf.
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 warrants were issued for Shahabuddin. Kaira will withdraw nomination papers.
The National Assembly or Lower House of the parliament will elect new Prime Minister this evening.
Local media reported that a major allied group suggested the President to nominate Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira as candidate for the office as Raja Pervez Asharf is also facing some corruption cases.
Raja Pervez Ashraf was born on December 26, 1950 in Sanghar district in southern Sindh province. He has served as Minister for Water and Power of Pakistan in the cabinet of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.
He has been twice elected Member of National Assembly from his constituency of Gujar Khan in Rawalpindi District of Punjab province.
After completing a bachelors degree from University of Sindh in 1970, his professional occupation has been that of business and agriculture. After that, he joined the center-left PPP, and made Gujar Khan his new home. In the 2008 election he beat the opposition PML (N) candidate Chaudhry Muhammad Riaz.
There are serious corruption allegation on Raja Pervez Ashraf for receiving kickbacks in rental power projects and buying properties in London. The Supreme Court of Pakistan is hearing rental power projects case “Rental power projects case” and buying property overseas with corrupt payments”.
The Supreme Court last month asked the country’s anti-corruption department to initiate investigation against Pervez Ashraf.
The opposition PML-N has announced to move the court against Pervez Ashraf for his alleged involvement in corruption, an opposition spokesman said.