Pakistan’s parliament has elected a loyalist of the Pakistan People’s Party as the new prime minister. In his inauguration speech, Yousuf Reza Gillani promised the restoration of judiciary and the release of the detained judges.
New Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gillani
As expected, Yusuf Raza Gillani of the Pakistan People’s Party beat his opponent Chaudary Pervez Elahi from the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), or PML-Q, -- a supporter of President Musharraf -- hands down. Gillani got 264 votes whilst Elahi got 42.
Nusrat Javed, a Pakistani political expert, thinks that the lower house of parliament made the right decision:
“We have to appreciate the reality that no political party was able to acquire a comfortable majority. In a coalition government, you need a prime minister that is a “lie-low” type and a consensus builder. I think Yousaf Reza Gillani is both.”
Yousuf Raza Gillani is a loyalist of the Pakistan People’s Party, or PPP, from Multan -- a city in southern Punjab.
He was a close aide of the assassinated PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, serving during her second term as speaker. He later spent five years in jail after being convicted for abusing his power in the 1990s by President Musharraf’s government.
Before entering politics, Gillani studied journalism. Shafiq Jhalandary who taught him at Punjab University where he did his Masters said: “He is a humble, polite and well mannered man. A common man like me would always like a man with such qualities.”
Gillani’s nomination came after a month-long series of consultations between the PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and other coalition partners.
But the prolonged consultation process has generated a lot of speculation and people wonder how long Gillani will remain prime minister. Many political experts say they would not be surprised if Benazir Bhutto’s widower took over as prime minister in a few months’ time.
Nusrat Javed, however, does not think this will happen: “Asif Ali Zardari has so many faults as a politician but I don’t think he is stupid. He would hate to be prime minister in an arrangement where his party would be dangerously dependent on other parties.”
“I think he won’t want to spoil the mystique by just exposing himself at a point when his party doesn’t have enough numbers in national assembly and things are not hunky-dory,” he added.
Prime Minister Gillani is expected to take the oath of office on Tuesday.