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Pakistan president considers names for new PM

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s president and his political allies were scheduled to meet Wednesday to come up with a new candidate to replace the prime minister, who was dismissed by the Supreme Court in a ruling that has added to political instability in a country already saddled with massive economic and security problems, politicians said.

The court ousted Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday because he failed to authorize a graft investigation into President Asif Ali Zardari.

The government has indicated it has no plans to appeal the verdict or defy the court order.

Zardari was to meet lawmakers from his Pakistan People’s Party to discuss possible picks, said party member Khuram Jehangir Wattoo.

He said that the National Assembly was likely to meet Friday to elect a new prime minister.

The PPP is the largest party in parliament but does not have a majority, so its coalition partners will insist on concessions for their support for a new premier and the process may not be smooth.

At least three names have been mentioned by the media and members of the coalition as potential front runners, including the outgoing textile minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin.

Whoever takes over will not have long in power. The government must call elections before March next year. Under the constitution, polls can only be held under a caretaker government, which must be in place three months before election day. Many analysts have speculated that the current political upheaval may expedite the polls, possibly in November. Elections before that date are considered unlikely because of the fierce summer heat.

The new prime minister will also likely run into trouble with the Supreme Court, which is likely to make the same demand of him or her as it did of Gilani, namely to initiate a corruption probe against Zardari. The court has been criticized by some for taking political decisions and jeopardizing the democratic setup in Pakistan.

Published Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 | 11:37 PM

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