DHAKA: Pakistan`s President Asif Ali Zardari has nominated textile industry minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin as the new prime minister, state television has reported.
"President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, has nominated Makhdoom Shahabuddin as a candidate for the prime minister," Pakistan Television said on Wednesday night.
Zardari had been locked in crisis talks with allies to select a consensus candidate to take on the premiership after the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed Yusuf Raza Gilani for contempt.
Zardari has already summoned the national assembly to meet on Friday to elect the new premier.
Shahabuddin will file his nomination papers on Thursday. Another federal minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, will be the alternative candidate.
The ruling Pakistan People`s Party (PPP) said it "accepted" a Supreme Court order on Tuesday that Gilani could not remain in his post.
Zardari held emergency talks among top leaders in the ruling PPP after the disqualification.
Maula Bukhsh Chandio, a law minister in Gilani`s outgoing cabinet, said on Wednesday that the coalition had given Zardari the power to choose a candidate, who has to be elected by politicians.
Al Jazeera`s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Islamabad, said that while Gilani was yet to vacate his office, there had been some speculation about the possible candidates to fill the post
Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a senior figure in the PPP, was widely seen as the candidate with a political edge, said Tyab.
"He hails from a political and religious family in southern Panjab. He is a long-time PPP supporter and served under [deceased] PM Benazir Bhutto in the 1990s," our correspondent said.
"He has also served under Gilani, taking up five portfolios at different times".
Gilani, the nation`s first-ever sitting prime minister to be convicted, can have the verdict reviewed, but has no formal appeal process available to him.
"This is bad news for the president … In many ways Yusuf Raza Gilani was the president`s biggest supporter, now this case [Gilani`s] goes back to a case involving the president in 2008, when the Supreme Court ordered Yusuf Raza Gilani to write to the Swiss authorities to begin a corruption [investigation]," our correspondent said.
The PPP is the largest party in parliament but does not have a majority, so its coalition partners will insist on concessions for their support for a new premier and the process may not be smooth.
Whoever takes over will not have long in power as the government must call elections before March next year.
Under the constitution, polls can only be held under a caretaker government, which must be in place three months before Election Day.
Many analysts have speculated that the current political upheaval may expedite the polls, possibly in November.
The new prime minister will also likely run into trouble with the Supreme Court, which is likely to make the same demand of him, or her, as it did of Gilani, to initiate a corruption probe against Zardari.
The court has been criticised by some for taking political decisions and jeopardising the democratic set-up in Pakistan.
BDST: 1057 HRS, JUN 21, 2012
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