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Today parliament voting for new PM

01 August, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: After five days parliament is all set to elect Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) backed Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister for about 45 days, until Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif rises to the Lower House through bye-election on the seat vacated by his elder brother.

The 342-seat National Assembly is scheduled to meet at 3 pm Tuesday (today) where it is likely to easily approve former petroleum minister for the interim slot since opposition has so far failed to nominate a consensus candidate to compete Abbasi.

On Monday, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, after scrutiny, accepted nomination papers of all the candidates for the election of the Leader of the House.

PML-N’s nominee Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who currently faces a Rs220 billion corruption inquiry against him being carried out by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), submitted his nomination papers to the NA secretary.

Besides Abbasi, opposition leader in NA Khursheed Shah and Naveed Qamar (covering candidate) submitted their nomination papers on behalf of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), whereas Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed submitted his papers referred by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Tariq Bashir Cheema (covering candidate). Jamat-e-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah also submitted nomination papers for the slot. The MQM-P, which decided not to take sides with any of the PML-N or the PPP so as not to annoy those in Centre and Sindh, decided to go for a solo flight, with its member Kishwar Zehra filing the nomination papers for the slot.

However, Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rahman has announced to back the PML-N candidate. Besides JUI-F, Aftab Sherpao’s QWP, which has recently ended its alliance with PTI in KP, and FATA members are also expected to support PML-N’s Abbasi.

During scrutiny of the nomination papers, Sheikh Rasheed asked NA speaker to consider his reference for disqualification of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Rejecting his plea, the speaker said that the reference can only be filed with the Election Commission of Pakistan.

A meeting of parliamentary leaders of the opposition parties in Khursheed Shah’s chamber on Monday ended without any consensus on fielding a joint candidate for the prime minister’s post, with each party throwing its weight behind different candidates who have already submitted their nomination papers.

PPP’s Sherry Rehman, PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi, AML chief Sheikh Rasheed, PML-Q’s Chaudhry Pervez Elahi participated in the meeting besides others. However, representatives of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Awami National Party (ANP) did not take part in the huddle.

The PTI has nominated Sh Rasheed for the slot but has failed to secure the support of any party but Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q). Defending his party’s decision to nominate Rasheed, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that AML chief deserved the honour of becoming the PM as he had fought the Panama case on both political and legal fronts along with PTI chairman Imran Khan and JI chief Sirajul Haq. “Since JI chief is member of the Upper House and Imran Khan is not a candidate, my party has decided to field Rasheed,” he told reporters following the meeting.

The PPP has refused to support PTI-backed Sh Rasheed because of Imran Khan’s criticism of Asif Ali Zardari in his speech at Parade Ground in Islamabad a day earlier. Imran Khan, in his address to the rally, had accused Zardari of corruption and announced to pursue the former president in corruption cases.

Addressing the media, Khursheed Shah said that a harsh approach by PTI Chairman Imran Khan was affecting the unity of the opposition. “If Imran thinks he can defeat PML-N solely, he must go ahead,” Shah said, as he criticised PTI’s ‘hasty’ decision to nominate Sh Rasheed for the slot.

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