ISLAMABAD/KARACHI, Aug 20: There now appears to be a concerted move to install PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari as the next president of the country with a number of senior members of the party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement coming out strongly in support of his candidature.

MNA Farzana Raja told reporters after a dinner hosted by Mr Zardari for the party’s legislators that almost all PPP leaders had asked Mr Zardari to become president. She claimed that there was unanimity that Mr Zardari was the most suitable person for the post.

However, a party insider told Dawn that there were a few members who opposed the idea of Mr Zardari holding the post of president which had no real power.

According to him, Mr Zardari told the MNAs that the decision to nominate a candidate for the post would be taken at a meeting of the PPP’s CEC on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf welcomed a statement of MQM chief Altaf Hussain that Mr Zardari should be the next president.

“This is a welcome statement as the PPP has the right to get its candidate elected to the top post. The PPP has its governments at the center and in three provinces and also a part of the coalition government in Punjab.”

He said the PPP would uphold the Constitution and reinstate the deposed judges.

In a statement issued in London, the MQM chief said: “Keeping in view the sacrifice of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto for democracy and after consulting my colleagues, I have come to the conclusion that the office of the president is the right of Asif Ali Zardari and, therefore, as party chief I propose Mr Zardari as the next presidential candidate on behalf of my party.”

He appealed to leaders of the PPP and other parties to accept his proposal and nominate Mr Zardari for the post.

Mr Hussain praised former president Pervez Musharraf for saving the country from a major crisis and resigning in the larger interest of the country and the nation.

He also praised Mr Zardari’s efforts for resolving the matter (impeachment) amicably.

APP adds: Mr Zardari has thanked the MQM chief for his ‘positive role’ which, according to him, led to the resignation of Gen (retd) Musharraf.

“Altaf Hussain and his party played a crucial role in the mediation efforts towards obtaining the resignation and ensuring a peaceful exit of the former president,” Mr Zardari said in a statement.

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