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Would-be premier: a profile

March 23, 2008

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Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, a member of an influential political family of Multan, started his political career in 1978 after the death of father Makhdoom Alamdar Hussain Gilani, who was a signatory to the Pakistan Resolution.

Mr Gilani’s grandfather, Makhdoom Ghulam Mustafa Shah Gilani, and paternal uncle Makhdoom Raza Shah Gilani had been elected members of the legislative assembly after defeating the Unionists in the 1946 elections.

Mr Gilani’s great grandfather, Makhdoom Raja Bakhsh Gilani, was both mayor of Multan in 1921 and member of the Central Legislative Assembly of India.

He served as a member of the assembly from 1921 till his death in 1936 and was known as the father of the Indian Assembly.

Mr Gilani was the first elected chairman of the District Council, Multan. He defeated the local government minister Syed Fakhar Imam, some 25 years ago.

In the 1985 non-party elections, he was elected MNA and became the minister for housing and railways in the cabinet of Mohammad Khan Junejo.

In 1988 elections, he defeated the then Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif on PPP ticket.

In 1990, again on a PPP ticket, he was elected an MNA after defeating Makhdoom Hamid Raza Gilani, a former federal minister. In 1993, he defeated Malik Sikander Hayat Bosan and later became Speaker of the National Assembly.

Mr Gilani contested the election in 1997 on a PPP ticket, but the party did not win a single seat in Punjab.

He was jailed in 2001 over charges of misuse of his authority by giving jobs to undeserving people in the National Assembly Secretariat when he was the speaker.

He spent six years in jail and could not contest the 2002 elections. During his detention, he also authored a book, ‘Chahe Yusuf Se Sada’.

He was made the senior vice-chairman of the PPP in 1998.

Mr Gilani has four sons and a daughter.

He is also related to Pir Pagara, the head of PML-Functional.