Picking new Pakistani president a challenge

August 18th, 2008 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 18 (IANS) Picking a new president is the biggest challenge facing the ruling coalition in Pakistan after Pervez Musharraf Monday resigned as head of state.The office has to be filled within one month of the resignation of a president which, in this case, will be Sept 17. In the interregnum, Senate Chairman Muhammadmian Soomro has taken over as acting president and will continue till a new head of state is elected.

“What I understand is that the new president will be from the PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party),” party chairman 20-year-old Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told reporters in Karachi. His visit to Pakistan from London where he is studying law at the Oxford coincided with Musharraf’s resignation.

However, Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said the next president will chosen after consensus of the ruling coalition parties. “All the parties in coalition will decide on the new president with consensus and we will prefer if the president is from a smaller province,” PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told IANS.

He, however said that all heads of the coalition parties are meeting in Islamabad and would probably decide the name “very soon.”

PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari had said a couple of days ago that his party may elect a woman as president. Sources in the party say that probably their candidate will be National Assembly speaker Fehmida Mirza or Zardari’s sister Azra Pechaho.

However, the PML-N which has floated the names of Ataullah Mengal, an elderly politician from Balochistan, Asfandyar Wali Khan, chief of Awami National Party and some other senior politicians, may not agree to the names given by the PPP.

Sources said that the coalition heads are discussing three important issues - the next president, Musharraf’s future and the restoration of judges. The sources said that deliberations over these critical issues will continue for the next two to three days.

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