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Pak Parliament to meet on Friday to elect new PM

Islamabad: A special session of Pakistan Parliament will be convened on Friday to elect a new premier following Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani`s disqualification by the Supreme Court. Pakistan People`s Party leader Khursheed Shah, who was Religious Affairs Minister in Gilani`s cabinet, told reporters that a session of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament will be convened at 5. 30 pm on Friday to elect the new premier.

Nomination papers for the election will be filed tomorrow, Shah said. President Asif Ali Zardari, who is the head of the PPP, will choose the party`s candidate for the post of premier, he said. PPP insiders said senior party leader Makhdoom Shahabuddin has emerged as a frontrunner in the race. Others who are being considered for the post include former Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Samina Ghurki, a PPP leader from Lahore whose late husband was a close aide of Zardari.

The PPP`s parliamentary party is scheduled to meet this evening to discuss the election of the premier. Several of the PPP`s allies in the ruling coalition, including the PML-Q and the Awami National Party, will hold meetings today and tomorrow. The main opposition PML-N`s top leadership held a meeting in Islamabad today to discuss the election of the new premier. The meeting was chaired by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry yesterday disqualified Gilani in response to several petitions that had challenged National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza`s decision not to disqualify the premier following his conviction of contempt. The apex court ruled that the post of premier had been vacant since April 26, when another seven-judge bench had convicted Gilani of contempt for refusing to reopen graft cases in Switzerland against Zardari.

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