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Monday, March 10, 2008

News Analysis: Agreement between Pakistan's major parties casts shadow on premiership
Special report: Pakistani Situation
ISLAMABAD, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Despite an agreement between Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on the formation of Pakistan's new government on Sunday, the Pakistani people have become more doubtful as to who will become their new Prime Minister (PM).
After a three-hour meeting in Murree city, administered by the garrison city of Rawalpindi, the PPP and PML-N agreed to form a coalition government in the center and Punjab province. They also said that all allied parties would fully support the PM candidate fielded by the PPP.
Senior leaders of the two parties took part in the talks except Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Senior Vice Chairman of the PPP and a PM hopeful.
The Co-Chairman of the PPP Asif Ali Zardari said that Amin Fahim was invited but he did not show up. However, Amin Fahim contradicted Zardari's allegation vehemently. "I was not a part of that committee and was not invited, so did not attend the meeting," he was quoted by The News as saying on Monday.
The absence of Amin Fahim has driven home the controversy the PPP is facing on the issue of PM candidate.
As a senior leader of the PPP, Amin Fahim was the Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the National Assembly and presidential candidate in October 2007.
Pakistan's former Prime Minister and Chairperson of the PPP Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Dec. 27, 2007 in gunshots and suicide bombing attacks at the Liaqat Bagh park where she addressed an election rally. After that, the PPP announced in Naudero of Sindh province, where Bhutto's hometown is located, that Amin Fahim would be PPP's PM candidate.
The PPP secured the highest number of National Assembly seats in the general elections held on Feb. 18, emerging as the largest party which would be entitled to form the new government.
However, the PPP turned out to be tardy in naming its PM candidate when local media unanimously considered Amin Fahim to beone of the ideal choices.
The PPP also clarified that its co-chairman Zardari would not become the Prime Minister.
A local newspaper The Nation reported on Monday that the whole party of PPP was in favor of Amin Fahim's candidature for the premiership.
Amin Fahim is also facing opposition from Nawaz Sharif, chief of the PML-N, said the report, adding that Sharif was highly skeptical of Fahim's future moves if he was elected prime minister.
Sharif was doubtful about Fahim's intentions to implement the coalition government's agenda of restoring the deposed judges after the stipulated time agreed upon between the two parties. In addition, Sharif also believed Fahim might also be disinclined to President Pervez Musharraf's impeachment by the parliament if this option was considered at some later stage, according to The Nation report.
Zardari, who had repeatedly told media that he would nominate Amin Fahim as the PM candidate, was quoted by The Nation as saying that the PPP would review its earlier decisions on PM slot.
A report filed by local newspaper The News on Monday said that Zardari had finally decided to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan after three months. Before that he would field a prime minister from Punjab province only for 90 days, said the report.

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