Asia

Profiles: Candidates for Pakistan PM

Five members of the National Assembly (NA), including three from the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), have filed nomination papers to be the country's next prime minister.

The post fell vacant after the Supreme Court disqualified Yousuf Raza Gilani from office on 19 June for a contempt of court conviction two months earlier.

Voting to elect his successor will be held in the lower house of Pakistan's parliament on 22 June. The PPP and its allies have the numbers to win the vote.

Raja Pervez Ashraf

Image caption Raja Pervez Ashraf - the PPP's 'back-up' candidate

Raja Pervez Ashraf ended up becoming the PPP's official nominee just hours before MPs were to vote. He was originally a back-up for the party's first choice candidate Makhdoom Shahabuddin, who had to stand aside after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Mr Ashraf is from Gujar Khan, a constituency not far from the capital, Islamabad, where he was elected a member of parliament in the 2002 and 2008 elections. He was secretary-general of the Pakistan People's Party (Parliamentarians), a party which contested the 2002 elections while former PM Benazir Bhutto was living in self-imposed exile.

When the PPP came into power in 2008, Raja Pervez Ashraf was sworn in as federal minister for water and power. He resigned from his post on 9 February 2011 after allegations of corruption in power projects and is thought still to be under investigation by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). He denies wrongdoing.

Mr Ashraf returned to Mr Gilani's cabinet recently when he was appointed minister for information technology on 18 April 2012.

Makhdoom Shahabuddin

Image caption Makhdoom Shahabuddin faces arrest

Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the outgoing minister of textiles, was named the main candidate for the ruling PPP by President Zardari late on 21 June.

But within hours a judge had issued a warrant for his arrest linked to alleged irregularities over imports of an illegal drug, ephedrine, while he was health minister in 2010.

Mr Shahabuddin comes from a family of PPP loyalists. His father, Makhdoom Hameeduddin, was petroleum minister in the 1970s in the cabinet of former Prime Minister ZA Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto's father.

Mr Shahabuddin himself is a member of the PPP central executive committee and heads the party in his native south Punjab. He has held seats in parliament on and off since 1990, and served in the cabinets of both Benazir Bhutto and Mr Gilani.

Some initial media reports suggested that his nomination was opposed by Mr Gilani as he did not want a fellow south Punjabi to succeed him, fearing Mr Shahabuddin might affect his influence. But despite this, he succeeded in winning the backing of party leaders.

Qamar Zaman Kaira

Image caption Qamar Zaman Kaira was a last minute surprise in the race

Qamar Zaman Kaira, the outgoing minister for information and broadcasting, was a surprise entry in the race for PM, and provides further back-up should something go wrong with official candidate number two. He was not among the original four top contenders for the post. Mr Kaira filed his nomination papers at the last minute after news of the warrant for Makhdoom Shahabuddin's arrest appeared in the Pakistani media on Thursday.

Mr Kaira is information secretary of the PPP. He also comes from a family of PPP loyalists in Gujrat district in central Punjab. His uncle, Asghar Kaira, won their traditional National Assembly seat in Gujrat in the 1988 and 1993 elections as a PPP candidate. Qamar Zaman Kaira was first elected to parliament in the 2002 elections. He repeated his electoral success in the 2008 elections and was initially appointed minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas. He briefly held the portfolios of Ports and Shipping and IT as well

Mr Kaira was appointed federal minister for information and broadcasting in March 2009 after the resignation of Sherry Rehman. He was removed from the post two years later before returning to his old ministry in April 2012.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman

Image caption Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman is shrewd but lacks support in the house

Maulana Fazlur Rehman is head of his own faction of Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam (JUI-F).

He is an influential cleric and comes from the Dera Ismail Khan area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the north-west. His father Maulana Mufti Mehmood was chief minister of the then NWFP in the 1970s.

Mr Rehman was secretary general of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), the party which ruled NWFP during the regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf.

He is a shrewd politician, but stands little chance of becoming PM as he has only a handful of his party members in parliament.

Sardar Mehtab Khan Abbasi

Sardar Mehtab is a leading political figure in the Pakistan Muslim League of former PM Nawaz Sharif. He was born into a working class family from the north-west garrison town of Abbottabad. He holds a law degree and practiced as a lawyer in Rawalpindi before joining his father's clothing business.

He entered politics in the mid-1980s when he was elected member of the NWFP assembly. He rose to become chief minister of the province from 1997 to 1999 when Gen Pervez Musharraf seized power in a coup d'etat.

He has also served as a provincial minister for health, law and parliamentary affairs and held the federal portfolio for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas. The PML-N has more than 90 members in the National Assembly - he would need 172 votes to become the next PM.

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