Top contenders for office of president
LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI: The ruling coalition is considering Baloch leader Attaullah Mengal, former chief justice (r) Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqi, Justice (r) Wajeehuddin Ahmed, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Faryal Talpur, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ghous Ali Shah, Awami National Party (ANP) President Asfandyar Wali, former Defence minister Aftab Shaaban Mirani and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Fazlur Rehman for the office of president in the post-Musharraf political scenario.
Sources privy to the developments told Daily Times Mengal was a favorite because he belongs to the troubled Balochistan province and because the PML-N does not want the new president to be from the PPP. Mengal has not agreed to the idea to far, the sources said.
Fazl is trying to take advantage of the differences between the two major coalition partners and banking on his qualification of being a “religious scholar” and can prove helpful in tackling the problem of religious militancy. Asfandyar Wali is a Pashtun, whose fellow Pashtuns are waging a war against the Pakistani state in FATA.
One of the two former “apolitical” judges, Siddiqi and Wajeehuddin, may be chosen to acknowledge the legal fraternity’s political struggle against Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf, sources said.
They also said veteran PML-N leader Ghous Ali Shah’s return from self-exile at a crucial juncture might be a signal that the PML-N wants to lay a claim to the presidency with a qualified candidate from the province of Sindh.
But sources say the PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari does not want to take a risk and wants the president to co-operate with the PPP.
Political pundits say Zardari’s statement about the new president being a woman as an indication that he sees his sister Faryal Talpur as another presidential candidate. Talpur and Aftab Shaaban Mirani are from the Sindh province. Mirani is a veteran politician from Shikarpur and related to Zardari.
Sources in the ruling coalition said that Gen (r) Jahangir Karamat could be a dark horse in the run for country’s top office.
“The ruling coalition will choose a consensus candidate. However, we will try to ensure that (s)he will be from a smaller province,” Awami National Party Information Secretary Zahid Khan, told Daily Times on Monday. amjad warraich, zulfiqar ghuman and irfan ali