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Ashraf is new Pak PM

Raja Pervez Ashraf, the nominee of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, was elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan on Friday by an overwhelming 211 votes while his nearest rival, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi of the PML-N party secured 89 votes. Imtiaz Ahmad reports.

world Updated: Jun 23, 2012 01:07 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
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Raja Pervez Ashraf, the nominee of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, was elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan on Friday by an overwhelming 211 votes while his nearest rival, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi of the PML-N party secured 89 votes.

Ashraf was declared winner of the elections in parliament by the speaker on Friday evening at 7.30pm after open vote counting.

Ashraf, a former minister for water and power, is also refered to as "Raja Rental" for his role in the rental power projects in which he is accused of misappropriation of funds.

He was taunted by opposition members as he made his way into parliament on Friday evening. He also avoided questions by the media over whether he would follow the orders of the Supreme Court and write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against president Zardari.

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The new Prime Minister faces allegations of receiving kickbacks in rental power projects and buying properties in London. The Supreme Court also directed the accountability bureau to take action against Ashraf for his alleged involvement in rental power case.

Raja Ashraf was the covering candidate for Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the original candidate for the position of PM. However, Shahabuddin candidature was withdrawn on Thursday after a court ordered non-bailable warrants against him over a scandal which also involved the son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

The voting procedure was that after doors of the floor were shut, members voting in favour of Raja Pervez Ashraf were asked to proceed to lobby on the right side of the speaker and those in favour of Mehtab Abbasi to the lobby on the left side of the speaker's podium.

Earlier in the day, a coalition ally, Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI party, announced that his party will not vote in the prime minister elections due to the current political scenario. "We are withdrawing our nomination" he said.

After being elected, Ashraf addressed the Parliament. He promised clean and fair election. He also said he would talk to the opposition and also to religious extremists so that the country could face better times.

Ashraf, a Punjabi Potohari, was born on December 26, 1950 in Sanghar, Sindh. He received an undergraduate degree from University of Sindh in 1970. He was elected twice as the member of National Assembly from his constituency of Gujar Khan, Rawalpindi. He has been elected twice from Gujjar Khan.