Parliament makes Ashraf new prime minister


Pakistan’s parliament elected former water and power minister Raja Pervez Ashraf as the new prime minister yesterday after the incumbent was disqualified by the Supreme Court.

Yusuf Raza Gilani was ruled ineligible for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the president, plunging the country into a new political crisis.

Whoever holds the office, now and after an election due early next year, is likely to come under similar pressure from chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who has gained notoriety by taking on Pakistan’s top politicians.

Pakistan’s three power centres – the military, civilian leadership and Supreme Court – have been manoeuvring to gain a political edge, frustrating Pakistanis who want their leaders to focus on improving the economy and enraging those who blame ministers such as Ashraf for failings in the infrastructure.

The ruling Pakistan People’s Party had previously nominated the textiles minister to replace Gilani.

But an anti-narcotics court issued an arrest warrant for him, undermining his bid for power. – (Reuters)