Opposition parties fail to reach consensus on joint candidate for PM's office

Published July 31, 2017
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Sheikh Rashid, and Khursheed Shah are among those who submitted their nomination papers on Monday. —DawnNews screengrab
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Sheikh Rashid, and Khursheed Shah are among those who submitted their nomination papers on Monday. —DawnNews screengrab

A meeting between the opposition members on Monday ended without the parties' consensus on a single candidate for the prime minister's post.

In the wake of Nawaz Sharif's disqualification in the Panamagate case, President Mamnoon Hussain had called a session of the National Assembly (NA) tomorrow [August 1] for the election of a prime minister.

The PML-N's nominee, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who is currently facing a Rs220 billion corruption inquiry being carried out by the National Accountability Bureau, submitted his nomination papers to NA Secretary Jawad Rafiq Malik on Monday.

Speaking to the media after submitting his nomination papers, Abbasi, who was chosen by the party unanimously, said that he would continue with the policies of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif over the period of his tenure.

According to his party's strategy, Abbasi will vacate his seat to pave the way for Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take the chief executive's position if and when the latter is elected to the National Assembly.

Expressing confidence that he would succeed, Abbasi added that the cabinet members would be decided by the party today.

Meanwhile, the opposition failed to agree on one nominee, with each party throwing its weight behind different candidates who also submitted their nomination papers.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) put forward Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rashid's name, but could not gain the support of any other party apart from Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid.

The PPP said it would not back Rashid because of PTI chief Imran Khan's criticism of Asif Ali Zardari in a speech a day earlier. Khan had accused Zardari of corruption and promised to pursue the former president in corruption cases.

PPP instead back Khursheed Shah and Naveed Qamar, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chose Kishwar Zehra, while Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) suggested the name of Sahibzada Tariqullah.

Defending the party's decision to nominate Sheikh Rashid, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the AML chief "deserved the honour" of becoming PM as he fought the Panama case "on both political and legal fronts" along with PTI chairman Imran Khan and JI ameer Sirajul Haq.

However, since Haq is a member of the Senate and Imran Khan is not a candidate, the party decided on Rashid's name.

Qureshi and opposition leader Khursheed Shah both expressed hope that the opposition parties would continue to make efforts to agree on a single candidate.

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