With the opposition parties in parliament failing to reach a consensus on a joint candidate for the prime minister’s seat, there are six hopefuls in the race for the slot. The Express Tribune brings to its readers an insight into the political careers of the six aspirants to the top job.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s entry into politics was accidental. The 58-year old politician hailing from Murree’s Abbasi family was destined to become a businessman to look after the family’s business interests. It was only after Shahid’s father Khaqan Abbasi, who was a federal minister in General Ziaul Haq’s cabinet, died in April 1988 in the infamous Ojhri camp incident that Shahid had to enter into politics fortuitously.
He contested elections from NA-50 Murree and became an MNA in 1988 after his father’s demise. He then joined Islami Jamhori Ittehad (IJI). Abbasi again won from the platform of IJI in 1990. In 1993, when Pakistan Muslim League emerged under Sharif’s leadership (which later became PML-Nawaz) Abbasi won from PML’s forum. He has won from the NA seat six times. (1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2008, 2013) However, he lost to PPP’s Murtaza Satti in the 2002 general elections. Abbasi is a graduate of University of California and holds a master’s degree from George Washington University.
Prior to being nominated for interim PM by the PML-N leadership, Abbasi was petroleum minister. He is also a businessman who is a co-owner of private airline Airblue. Abbasi remained Chairman PIA during Nawaz’s previous federal government in 1997. He is regarded as an aviation expert. His stint as petroleum minister was marred by corruption allegations related to irregular award of LNG contracts.
Sheikh Rashid Ahmad
Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, the founder of Awami Muslim League, has been a member of the National Assembly since 1985.
Ahmed began his political career during his student years and was elected as an MNA in 1985 from Rawalpindi. These elections were held under the auspices of General Zia on a non-party basis
The outspoken leader is often hailed for his candour.
Ahmed has served as a member of the federal cabinet between 1992 and 1997. He first served as federal minister for information and broadcasting from 2002 to 2006 and then as federal minister for railways from 2006 to 2007.
In the 2002 general elections, PML-N refused to give him a party ticket after which he contested as an independent candidate and later joined PML-Q.
He formed his own party after the 2013 Pakistani general election in which he made an electoral alliance with Imran Khan.
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah has been a member of the provincial and National Assembly since 1988. He started parliamentary politics in 1988 by winning a seat in the Sindh Assembly from Sukkur.
Since then, Khursheed has worked in the provincial cabinet on various positions, including education and transport minister.
Before entering into politics, Khursheed Shah was working as a government non-gazetted employee in the Water and Power Ministry. However, he has been affiliated with PPP since his college days.
He was elected member of the National Assembly from Sukkur in 1990 and played an important role on the opposition benches.
Shah, who is also known as “Shah Ji”, has served in the federal cabinet thrice from 1993 to 2013 as minister for education, labour, manpower, overseas Pakistanis as well as religious affairs.
Shah, who is considered a diehard worker of the party, also served as parliamentary leader of PPP in NA from 2008 to 2013.
Born in an influential Syed family of Tando Muhammad Khan district of Hyderabad division, PPP MNA Naveed Qmar is parliamentary leader of the party in the National Assembly. He kicked off his political career in 1988 as provincial assembly member in Sindh.
He was given the portfolio of information minister.
His father Qamar Zaman Shah (who passed away in 2016) also served as senator in 1970s and was president of Sindh Abadgar Board.
Naveed started his education from Karachi, but later went to Manchester University, USA for his bachelor’s degree in computer science. After this, he received a master’s degree in management from Northrop University.
He also holds a post-graduate degree from California State University.
He was elected MNA in 1990 and during Benazir Bhutto’s second government in 1993 he was appointed chairman privatisation commission of Pakistan, federal minister privatisation and finance department.
During Musharraf’s regime, he was elected from his ancestral constituency in Hyderabad division NA-222 and played an active role on the opposition benches.
After Benzair Bhutto’s assassination when PPP came to power in 2008, Qamar served as federal minister in many departments, including petroleum and natural resources, privatisation and water and power.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan has fielded Kishwer Zehra for the interim prime minister’s slot. Zehra was elected member National Assembly twice—2013 and 2008—on reserved seats for women.
Incharge of MQM-Pakistan’s women wing and member of the decision-making Coordination Committee, Zehra has been active in politics since 1980s with the same party. She was given a ticket by the party for the first time in 1987 local government polls in Karachi. She won a seat as a councillor.
Before the MQM was split into more than two factions in August last year, she was considered to be a loyalist of her party founder Altaf Hussain and had been tasked with important assignments during her career. The credit to bring Amir Khan back to the MQM partially goes to her as she mediated the patch-up between him and her party.
Sahibzada Tariq Ullah
Sahibzada Tariq Ullah is Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly and is believed to be a close aide of JI chief Sirajul Haq.
He is the resident of Rehankot Bala, Upper Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and won elections on the general seat from NA-33, Upper Dir-cum-Lower Dir (old Upper Dir) during the 2013 general elections.
He suffered from a serious grief when his son Sahibzada Waqas Ahmad died and his four relatives were injured in a road accident near Dir Town in September 2015.
Sahibzada Tariq Ullah is also the member of the Standing Committee on Communication of the National Assembly.