Opposition parties meeting for fielding joint PM candidate ends inconclusively

  • Opposition parties discussed whether to vote Sheikh Rasheed for premier or to pitch another candidate
  • PML-N's candidate Shahid Khaqan Abbasi would most likely be the premier as the party enjoys two-third majority in National Assembly

ISLAMABAD – A meeting of the opposition parties to pitch a joint candidate for prime minister against ruling party’s nominee Shahid Khaqan Abbasi ended inconclusively here on Monday.

The meeting was held in the chamber of opposition Leader Khursheed Shah. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed, PML-Q’s Pervez Elahi and Jamaat-e-Islami MNA Sahibzada Tariqullah were in attendance.

Although the PML-N holds a sizeable majority in the National Assembly enough to elect its own candidate without enlisting the support of any other party, the opposition still tried to confront the wounded party but it failed to reach a consensus.

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Awami Muslim League president Sheikh Rasheed, an ally of PTI, acquired nomination papers for prime minister on Sunday after being declared the PTI’s candidate.

However, other opposition parties failed to publicly endorse or reject Rasheed as their candidate for prime minister.

Opposition parties such as Pakistan Peoples Party, Qaumi Watan Party and Awami National Party were unlikely to throw weight behind the PTI candidate.

The newly elected provincial law maker of Pakistan Peoples Party from Sindh, Saeed Ghani clarified on Monday that if he could, he would still not vote for Rasheed as the prime minister since the premiership is a serious and sensitive matter and should not be taken lightly.

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On the other hand, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi filed his nomination papers, the same day to be the next chief executive of the country.

The race for new PM started after a five-member bench of the top court disqualified the third-time ruling premier Nawaz Sharif for concealing his employment with FZE Capital in his nomination papers for General Elections 2013.

The ruling PML-N decided to elect Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as a stop-gap premier in a bid to replace him with Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif after he secures victory in National Assembly constituency 120 from Lahore.