Another political drama unfolded on Thursday in Pakistan as non-bailable warrants of arrest were issued for Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the candidate for prime ministership finalised by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party a day earlier, forcing the party leadership to possibly reconsider its nomination and look towards yet another candidate on Friday.
Non-bailable warrants of arrest for Makhdoom Shahabuddin were issued by the Anti Narcotics Force on Thursday, hours after President Asif Ali Zardari announced that the party would back Shahabuddin for the post of PM in the session of Parliament on Friday.
The warrant comes as Shahabuddin is accused of being involved in allocating a quota of ephedrine, a substance used in drug manufacture, to companies in which former PM Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son, Ali Musa Gilani, was involved. The same warrant was issued against Gilani’s son as well.
After the warrants were issued, the party resolved to go ahead with Friday’s session and support its covering candidate, former minister for water and power, Raja Pervez Ashraf, for the top job.
Shahabuddin, Ashraf and another PPP leader, Qamar Zaman Kaira, filed nomination papers. Party insiders said that Ashraf may be elected in the session of Parliament on Friday.
Insiders said that the inclusion of Qamar Zaman Kaira as a third candidate from the same party was puzzling. “Maybe he is also in the run and we will know for sure by Friday,” said analyst Kamran Khan.
Two opposition parties, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also field their candidates.
(With agency inputs)