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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistani President nominates Shahabuddin for PM

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

ISLAMABAD, June 21, IRNA – President Asif Ali Zardari has formally nominated Syed Makhdoom Shahabuddin as candidate of the majority Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for the post of Prime Minister, state television reported on Thursday.

PTV reported that senior PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf will be filing his nomination papers as a covering candidate.

The decision was taken after President Zardari held hectic consultations with PPP leaders, parliamentarians and leaders of allied parties over the past two days.

Makhdoom Shahabuddin will file nomination papers on Thursday in the National Assembly secretariat and election for the Prime Ministerial post will be held on Friday.

President Zardari has summoned the National Assembly session to meet on Friday at 5:30 pm to elect new leader of the house following the disqualification of Yusuf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister for contempt of court.

Earlier the majority PPP nominated Makhdoom Shahabuddin as the party candidate for the office of Prime Minister. All allies of the PPP have already announced support for the nominee.

The PPP and its allies enjoy majority in the 342-member National Assembly or Lower House of the Parliament and Shahabuddin would not face any major challenge from the opposition groups.

Shahabuddin, who was born in 1947, belongs to Punjab province and has served as minister in several cabinets during the PPP government, including the government of slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

He was Minister of Textiles in the cabinet of Yusuf Raza Gilani until he became Prime Minister.

Analysts say that by nomination of Shahabuddin, the PPP wants to strengthen its position in southern parts of Punjab province, the country's biggest province which plays key role in government formation. Shahabuddin belongs to a spiritual family and is custodian of the shrine of a Sufi saint.

The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) has also decided to field its candidate for the office of Prime Minister and has started to contact other political parties including coalition partners of the PPP.

The PML-N plans to field Mehtab Khan Abbasi, a former minister and a party central leader from northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, the party sources said.

Several leaders of the opposition group are trying to win support of other parties to give tough time to the candidate of the majority PPP.

**2050
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80193964



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