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Fahim frontrunner for PM

world Updated: Feb 22, 2008 22:59 IST

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As widely speculated, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim has emerged as frontrunner for the Prime Minister’s post in the new coalition government in Pakistan as the two main opposition parties worked for a power sharing formula on Friday. Shahbaz Sharif, brother of former premier Nawaz Sharif, is likely to be the chief minister of Punjab province.

The newly-elected MPs of the PPP, at their first meeting on Friday after the poll results were declared, discussed the name of Fahim, the 68-year-old vice-president of the party and a few other probables. No final decision has been taken yet, party sources said, adding that the meeting lasting two hours was convened to discuss last night’s decision taken by former rivals PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N's Nawaz Sharif to form a “National Consensus Government”.

The names of PPP’s Punjab province president and a formal central minister Shah Mehmood Quereshi, senior leader Yousuf Reza Gillani and firebrand lawyer Aitaz Ahsan were also doing the rounds for the top post.

The PML-N has already made it clear that the Prime Minister will be from the PPP. “We are waiting for them to nominate a suitable member of the National Assembly,” PML-N joint secretary Siddique-ul-Farooq said.

PML-N has also decided that Sharif’s brother Shahbaz will be its chief ministerial candidate in the politically crucial Punjab province, where the party has emerged as the single largest group.

Neither Zardari nor Sharif are immediately eligible to be Premier because they are not MPs.

As the new coalition partners PPP and PML-N joined hands with a resolve to strengthen Parliament, President Pervez Musharraf said in a signed article in the Washington Post that he would work with the new Parliament.

“Because these goals are shared by the vast majority of Pakistanis, I am certain we can and will accomplish them, and I stand ready to work with the newly elected parliament to achieve these objectives,” he wrote.

The ruling party — PML(Q) — which backed Musharraf, and has fared poorly in the polls, was, however, not as generous. It said it doubted the PPP-led alliance would be stable calling it a “marriage of convenience”. PPP won 87 National Assembly seats in Monday’s vote while PML-N won 67 out of 268 seats contested. The PML-Q won 40, with the rest going to smaller parties and independent candidates. Six results are yet to be announced.