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June 22, 2012 (TSR) - Pakistan’s National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament in the country, on Friday elected Raja Pervez Ashraf,a candidate from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, as the country’s new prime minister, announced the National Assembly Speaker.
Ashraf won 211 votes out of the total 338 members of the parliament attending Friday’s election while Mehtab Khan Abbasi, a candidate from the country’s largest opposition party Pakistan Muslim-League (PML-N) got 89 votes with the remaining 38 votes to be abstained.
The National Assembly currently consists of 342 seats. Four seats were vacant in Friday night’s election including one seat from the former Prime Minister Gilani as he was deprived of the membership by the country’s Supreme Court on Tuesday due to his contempt of court.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has extended congratulations to the newly elected Prime Minister Ashraf and an oath-taking ceremony is scheduled to be held later on Friday night at the President House, according to the Presidential Spokesman.
All the old cabinet ministers under the leadership of the former Prime Minister Gilani are expected to join Ashraf in the oath-taking ceremony, reported local media, adding that the newly elected prime minister will keep the old cabinet intact to prevent any further crisis and troubles from arising.
The election for the new prime minister of Pakistan was scheduled to be kicked off at 5:30 p.m.Friday, but the voting did not start until about 6:45 p.m., almost one hour later as scheduled due to some troubles created by a candidate from a small opposition party,said sources close to the election.
At the start of the election, Maulana Faza-ur-Rahman, leader of Jamiat ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) who also contended for the new premiership for his party demanded to adjourn the voting for the funeral of a parliamentarian, but the request was turned down by the National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza who chaired the voting.
Maulana later withdrew from competing for the office of the prime minister, leaving Friday’s election a one-to-one contest between Ashraf from PPP which holds a total of 124 seats plus 111 seats from allies in Friday’s voting and Abbasi from PLM-N.
After about one hour of voting and counting, as it had been expected, the National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza declared that Ashraf, a candidate who had not been announced by PPP for the new premiership until just hours before the official election, secured an overwhelming victory to become the 25th prime minister of the country.
Ashraf is the last minute-picked candidate by PPP for the office of the prime minister after the first top candidate recommended by PPP withdrew his nomination papers from the National Assembly sectariat after a local anti-narcotics court judge on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for him as he was allegedly involved in a corruption case just minutes after he submitted the nomination papers.
Raja Pervez Ashraf was born on December 26, 1950 in Sanghar district in southern Sindh province. After completing a bachelor’s degree from University of Sindh in 1970, his professional occupation has been that of business and agriculture. After that, he joined the center-left PPP, and made Gujar Khan area in Punjab province his new home.
Raja Pervez Ashraf had been inducted minister in Gilani’s cabinet in April 2008 after the PPP won elections and formed a coalition government. He served as Minister for Water and Power till February 2011. He was not given any portfolio in a major cabinet reshuffle in February 2011. He was again appointed Minister for Information Technology in April 2012 when the cabinet was expanded. He remained the IT minister until Gilani cabinet was dissolved on Tuesday.
He has been twice elected Member of National Assembly from his constituency of Gujar Khan in Rawalpindi District of Punjab province.
There are serious corruption allegations on Raja Pervez Ashraf for receiving kickbacks in rental power projects and buying properties in London. The Supreme Court of Pakistan is hearing rental power projects case and buying property overseas with corrupt payments”.
The Supreme Court last month asked the country’s anti- corruption department to initiate investigation against Pervez Ashraf.