ISLAMABAD, June 20: Although the ruling Pakistan People’s Party is yet to announce its nominee for the office of prime minister after disqualification of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, the names of some prominent party figures have been in circulation in the media and PPP circles as possible candidates.
Following are brief profiles of some of them:
Makhdoom Shahabuddin: Belonging to the southern Punjab city of Rahimyar Khan, he is being tipped as a front runner for the office of prime minister.
He is a senior PPP leader. He held the portfolios of health and textiles in the Gilani cabinet. He also served as minister of state for finance in the second government of Benazir Bhutto.
The main hurdle in his selection as the country’s new chief executive is his alleged involvement in the ephedrine scam. He was the man who as health minister issued quota for import of the controlled substance to two pharmaceutical companies, allegedly under the influence of Ali Musa, son of Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar: The 66-year-old Chaudhry from Gujrat was also in the race of premiership after the 2008 general election with Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Yousuf Raza Gilani and Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Mr Mukhtar, who started his political career from the PPP platform in 1990, was recently appointed as minister for water and power.
Earlier, he served the Gilani cabinet as defence minister for more than four years. A businessman by profession, he served the government of Benazir Bhutto as commerce minister in 1993-96.
He is a central PPP leader and an arch rival of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat. He defeated PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat in the 1993 and 2008 elections.
His brother, Ahmad Saeed, was managing director and chairman of the PIA during the Musharraf regime.
He is brother-in-law of former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt.
Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo: A new entrant to the PPP, he belongs to Okara district of Punjab. He has been a part of the country’s political landscape for almost three decades. He joined the PPP in 2008 soon after winning a National Assembly seat as an independent candidate.
Mr Wattoo was minister for Kashmir affairs in the Gilani cabinet. His daughter, Rubina Shaheen, was elected member of the previous National Assembly on PML-Q ticket. He was considered to be a close friend of Pervez Musharraf. He agreed to merge his political party, PML-Jinnah, into the PML-Q on the advice of Gen Musharraf. He had formed PML-Jinnah in 1995 after parting ways with his cousin, Hamid Nasir Chattha, who wanted to become president of PML-Junejo.
Mr Wattoo has also served as Punjab chief minister and speaker of the Punjab Assembly. His son, Khurram Jahangir, was elected MNA on PPP ticket. He was convicted by an accountability court on corruption charges, but his sentence was set aside by higher courts.
Qamar Zaman Kaira: A true PPP ‘jiyala’ is the party’s central information secretary. Mr Kaira has been actively and forcefully defending policies of the party and its government for the past four years on almost every issue – be it the war on terror, energy crisis, law and order or the judicial crisis. He was information minister in Mr Gilani’s cabinet.
He is representing the PPP in the National Assembly for a second time.
Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah: A PPP stalwart and true party loyalist from Sindh, he has been elected as MNA for a fourth term. He was minister for religious affairs in the Gilani cabinet.
Mr Shah is PPP’s chief whip in the National Assembly. Because of his good connections with all political parties, he is always considered to be a trouble-shooter as far as relations with other parties are concerned. He has been part of all negotiations with coalition partners and even with the opposition on almost every issue.
He also heads the parliamentary committee on the appointment of chief election commissioner.Mr Shah was federal minister for education in Benazir Bhutto’s second government.
In 1988, he was elected member of the Sindh Assembly and served as provincial minister for education, imports, finance, information and transport.