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PPP "rethinking" on Fahim as next PM

PPP co-chairman Zardari says the party is rethinking as it could not get complete majority in the elections.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Islamabad
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2008 06:45 PM IST

PPP is "rethinking" its position on Makhdoom Amin Fahim being the prime ministerial candidate as it would have to choose a person who could take along its coalition partners in a new government in Pakistan, party co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has indicated.

After the PPP did not get a majority in the February 18 parliamentary polls due to "selective rigging", it began "rethinking the position" because of the considerations of forming a coalition government, according to Zardari.

The issue of choosing the prime ministerial candidate was still "wide open", he said.

PPP emerged as the largest party in the general election with 88 seats and is set to form a coalition government with parties like PML-N and ANP.

"Makhdoom Amin Fahim is a very senior person in our party and we respect him tremendously but at the moment the challenge that we are faced with we were looking (before the polls) at getting a two-thirds majority...We thought in the party that this is it, we are going to make it...But somehow something happened," Zardari said.

"It's not that I need a different person. Now in the party we are rethinking the position. Amin Fahim is of course the first runner, we are just seeing how we are going to get out of this absolute challenge that we have been faced with," he told interviewer Karan Thapar on the

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Three days after the assassination of his wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, in December, Zardari had said she had wanted Fahim to be the party's prime ministerial candidate though a final decision would be taken by the PPP's top leadership.

Asked if choosing a prime ministerial candidate was causing a rift within the PPP, Zardari replied, "We haven't really even come to the position where we have started to select. There are many front-runners."

The choice of a final candidate is still a "few days away". As the PPP is a "federal party", the choice could be a candidate from Punjab, Balochistan or the North West Frontier Province, he said.

Zardari's comments came in the wake of reports that some political heavyweights from the politically crucial Punjab province, including Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chaudhry Mukhtar Ahmed, the candidate who defeated PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in the polls, were being considered for the post of premier.

Asked whether he was confident that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif would support the PPP-led government for five years, Zardari said: "I think by and large it depends on the larger party because we've got the large mandate. We have to show humility, we have to take him into our heart and build confidence in my opponents."

When it was pointed out that the PML-N could become a larger party if defectors from the PML-Q joined it, he said, "I think the problems faced by Pakistan today are beyond the number games, are beyond the immediate politics. So I think the more we get down to business and the more we get into governance, we'll realise that. When that dawns on everybody, we'll all stand in line and start delivering."

Referring to Sharif's demand for immediate impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf and reinstatement of judges deposed during last year's emergency, Zardari said, "No I don't think it's a problem...We realise that we have to mature as a democracy and Parliament is the replacement for the system."

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