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Shahabuddin dropped, Raja Pervez Ashraf is PPP's new PM hopeful

Shahabuddin dropped, Raja Pervez Ashraf is PPPs new PM hopeful

Islamabad:The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Thursday dropped the name of Makhdoom Shahabuddin as its leading candidate for the post of prime minister and decided to name Raja Pervez Ashraf as the contender, Geo News reported.

The PPP had earlier nominated Makhdoom Shahbuddin for the office of the prime minister but had to drop the decision as an anti-narcotics court issued non-bailable arrest warrant against him along with Yousuf raza Gilani's son Ali Musa in an illegal drugs quota case.

The warrant was issued after a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry directed the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) to arrest Shahabuddin, named the prime ministerial candidate by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for Friday's election. The court also directed Ali Musa Gilani to be arrested.

Shahabuddin, in his earlier capacity as health minister, had unauthorisedly approved the manufacturing licence for the drug ephedrine to two pharmaceuticals firms -- Berlex Lab International and Danas Pharma -- for Rs.7 billion.

The present turmoil in Pakistan politics started with the Supreme Court ruling that Gilani stood disqualified as prime minister as well as MP since the apex court's April 26 verdict holding him in contempt of court for refusing to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against Zardari.

A three-member bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry heard a set of constitutional petitions challenging National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza's ruling over Gilani's qualification as prime minister.

A seven-member bench of the apex court had convicted Gilani April 26 of contempt of court. The court, however, sentenced him only "until the rising of the court", or till the time the judges left the court chamber. That was only for about 30 seconds after the verdict was handed down.

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