Pakistan’s opposition parties today failed to agree on a joint candidate against PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for the prime minister’s election, with six candidates filing their nomination papers for the polls scheduled to be held. The Supreme Court on Friday disqualified 67-year-old Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing him to resign. President Mamnoon Hussain has summoned National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, tomorrow at 3:00 PM to elect the new leader of the house. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has nominated Abbasi as interim prime minister candidate. Abbasi today submitted his nomination papers to NA Secretary Jawad Rafiq Malik. Talking to reporters after submitting his nomination papers, Abbasi said he would continue with the policies of ousted prime minister Sharif over the period of his tenure. If elected, Abbasi will run the government as interim prime minister until Sharif’s brother Shehbaz is elected as member of parliament to succeed him as his eventual successor.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties failed to agree on a joint candidate, with each party throwing its weight behind different candidates who submitted their nomination papers. “A meeting between the opposition members on Monday ended without the parties’ consensus on a single candidate for the prime minister’s post,” Dawn reported. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf backed Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rashid’s name, but could not gain the support of any other party apart from Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid. The Pakistan Peoples Party refused to support Rashid because of Khan’s remarks a day earlier accusing former president Asif Ali Zardari of corruption. PPP instead asked its leaders, Khursheed Shah, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, and Naveed Qamar to file their nomination papers.
Kishwar Zehra and Sahibzada Tariqullah of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Jamaat-e-Islami respectively too have submitted their papers. Speaker Ayaz Sadiq scrutinised their papers and approved their candidature. However, opposition parties are still trying to create consensus. A meeting of PPP, PTI and others will be held tomorrow for further discussions. But even a joint candidate cannot defeat Abbasi as his party enjoys majority in 342-member house. Under Pakistan’s Constitution, the prime minister has to be elected by a majority of the 342-member lower house of parliament, which comes to 172 votes. The PML-N and its coalition partners command a 209-seat majority in the assembly.