Gillani set to take oath as Pakistan PM Tuesday

March 23rd, 2008 - 3:10 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 23 (IANS) Makhdoom Yousaf Raza Gillani will take oath as Pakistan’s 20th prime minister Tuesday morning from the man who jailed him in 2001 for five years on corruption charges. President Pervez Musharraf will administer the oath of office and secrecy to journalism post-graduate who took to politics in the 1980s, an official of the president’s office told IANS.

Gillani, 58, was jailed two years after Musharraf seized power after being accused of corruption when he was speaker of the National Assembly when Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister, from 1993 to 1996.

Musharraf has summoned the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, to meet Monday at 4 p.m. to elect the new leader of the house.

The election of Gillani as prime minister Monday is a certainty, thanks to the majority the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its coalition partners won in the Feb 18 polls.

Gillani’s only son is set to marry the same day, leaving him to face a tough first day on the job.

Gillani was one of the most loyal followers of the late Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister who was assassinated in December shortly after addressing a campaign rally in the town of Rawalpindi.

A father of five, Gillani was nominated by the PPP Saturday night to head the country’s new coalition government after a month of tortuous deliberations.

He emerged as the frontrunner last week. His closeness to Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s husband who too was in jail at the same time when he was, helped seal the matter in his favour.

Party insiders and friends said he has a less elitist background than other PPP figures and would likely be a safe bet in a looming showdown between Musharraf and a government hostile to the president.

Gillani, a member of an influential political family of Multan, started his political career in 1978 after the death of his father Makhdoom Alamdar Hussain Gillani, who actively campaigned for Pakistan’s creation.

Gillani junior was born in 1950 into a family with a long heritage as guardians of shrines in Multan, known as the ‘City of Saints’.

He took a masters degree in journalism and entered politics in the 1980s, when he was part of a cabinet under military dictator Zia-ul Haq.

But he quit the administration in 1988 to joined the PPP, defeating future prime minister Nawaz Sharif in elections that year following Zia’s death in a mysterious air crash.

Some analysts believe that Gillani is just a seat warmer for party chief Zardari, who is not eligible to be premier because he is not an MP but who may decide to fight a by-election in May and take over the post.

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