Bhutto's party meets to nominate next prime minister of Pakistan
With leadership still in limbo, parliament plans to convene later this month.
After winning landmark parliamentary elections on Feb. 18, Pakistan People's Party met to select its nomination for the next prime minister. The PPP has vowed to form a coalition government with other opposition parties, shutting out loyalists of President Pervez Musharraf, who could face impeachment by a hostile parliament that is due to convene later this month.Skip to next paragraph
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On Thursday, the party failed to agree on a candidate, largely due to discord over front-runner candidate Makhdoom Amin Fahim, a stalwart Bhutto aide, reports the Agence France-Presse. He is one of four candidates whom the party is expected to nominate, reports the Associated Press.
The Bush administration is anxious to ensure that the tensions between pro-US Musharraf and his opponents don't blunt Pakistan's resolve to combat militant violence, particularly in its tribal belt along the troubled border with Afghanistan. After a lull, Pakistan has been roiled by a recent upsurge in suicide attacks. A power blackout in Karachi has also drawn attention to economic challenges facing the next government.
In a possible sign of easing political tensions, on Wednesday an anticorruption court threw out five charges against PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The charges dated from Ms. Bhutto's two terms in office, when Mr. Zardari was accused of massive graft and later jailed on what he called politically motivated charges, reports the Associated Press.
Property seized from Mr. Zardari will be immediately returned to him, while the court is expected next week to quash two other outstanding corruption cases against him. His lawyer, Farooq Naek, praised the Supreme Court for upholding a controversial ordinance issued last year by Musharraf that gave an amnesty to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases prior to 1999, when Musharraf staged a coup. The ordinance was widely seen at the time as a conciliatory offering by Musharraf to Bhutto as she prepared to return from exile.
Asked whether the end of the corruption cases made it easier for the party to work with Musharraf, Naek said: "We do not believe in politics of revenge, and we believe that there should be coexistence between democratic forces."