Makhdoom Shahabuddin. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza on Thursday approved nomination papers for all five candidates contesting for the prime minister's position, DawnNews reported.

Makhdoom Shahabuddin lodged his bid Thursday to be elected prime minister by parliament, however his arrest warrant issued by the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) for his alleged involvement in the Ephedrine import may have cut short his chances of forming a new cabinet.

Two other candidates, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Qamar Zaman Kaira, have also been nominated by the PPP and the lower house of parliament will now meet Friday to elect the new prime minister.

The Pakistan People's Party is to announce its final preference for a nominee later tonight after a meeting with its coalition partners.

The Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) has also fielded Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan as a candidate for prime minister.

“We will contest the election for the new prime minister and Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan will be our candidate,” Siddiqul Farooq, a PML-N spokesman, told AFP earlier.

Khan is former chief minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and an MP from the northwestern Abbottabad city.

Moreover, Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) also filed his nomination papers for the government's top job.

Gilani, who became prime minister after the PPP won elections in 2008 ending nearly a decade of military rule, was dismissed after being convicted of contempt for refusing to ask Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against Zardari.

Gilani always insisted Zardari had immunity as head of state and that writing to the Swiss would be a violation of Pakistan's constitution.

The cases against Zardari date to the 1990s, when he and Bhutto are suspected of using Swiss banks to launder $12 million allegedly paid in bribes by companies seeking customs contracts.

The Swiss shelved the cases in 2008 when Zardari became president.

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