M A I N   N E W S

Musharraf pledges support to new govt
Gilani set to be elected Pak PM
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Ahead of the installation of Yousuf Raza Gilani as new Prime Minister, President Pervez Musharraf pledged today that he would support the new government.

Musharraf said he had put the country “on the track of development and progress” and it was now up to the new government to sustain this process and also rid the country of extremism and terrorism.

“Whichever new government is formed, it will enjoy my full support,” he said while addressing the military parade in Islamabad.

Gilani, who filed his nominations for the Prime Minister’s post on Sunday and is sure to be elected on Monday, refused to be drawn into the future of Musharraf, but significantly said parliament would be made “supreme”.

“Parliament is a reflection of the people and their aspirations. We will work for the supremacy of parliament. We will make parliament supreme in policy-making,” the 55-year-old veteran lawmaker, who will be sworn in by Musharraf on Tuesday, told mediapersons outside the National Assembly.

Replying to a question on whether he would maintain a working relationship with Musharraf or ask him to step down, he said: “I’ll follow the constitution.”

Earlier, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had named Gilani as its prime ministerial candidate.

PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari made the formal announcement in a statement read out by party spokesman Farhatullah Babar to the media on Saturday. Asif sifted the final name after some intense consultations within the party and with his coalition partners in the upcoming government.

The statement did not say whether Gilani would act as a stand-in Prime Minister for an interim period before Zardari gets elected to the National Assembly to qualify for the job.

Answering questions, Babar said: “The statement is clear and does not say Gilani will be the interim Prime Minister.”

PPP vice-chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who had earlier staked claim to the Prime Minister’s post, said he accepted the decision of the party and would return to Islamabad on Monday “only to vote for my friend Gilani”. Fahim said he would not accept any other office.

Meanwhile, the opposition on Sunday fielded former Punjab Chief Minister Chuadhry Pervez Elahi to contest election to the office of Prime Minister against coalition candidate Gillani.

The National Assembly speaker, Dr Fahmida Mirza, has received six papers filed on behalf of Gilani and four by Elahi declaring them as in order. The election will be held on Monday which precludes the possibility of defection as happened in the case of Speaker’s election last week when at least 12 PML-Q members voted for Mirza in the secret ballot.

Gilani who is supported by all four coalition partners, the PPP, the PML-N, the ANP and the JUI besides the MQM and Independents, is expected to win overwhelmingly.

The oath-taking ceremony is likely to be boycotted by some coalition leaders, including PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, who said Musharraf was not legitimately elected President. For the same reason, PML-N nominees in the cabinet would not take oath from Musharraf.



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