Islamabad, Mar.23: The rank and file of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) reacted with enthusiasm and joy after they were informed that Makhdoom Yousuf Raza Gilani would be the party's nominee for Prime Minister of Pakistan.
The nomination was made by party spokesman Farhatullah Babar late on Saturday night, and was received by slogans of 'Jiye Bhutto' by party enthusiasts. Party leaders also congratulated Gilani on his nomination, which came after prolonged consultations with coalition partners. The announcement was made 34 days after elections on February 18. According to local newspaper reports, the final consultative meeting of the PPP was held at Zardari House and chaired by party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari. It was attended by Senior Vice Chairman Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, PPP Information Secretary Sherry Rehman, Farzana Raja, Ahmed Mukhtar, Syed Khursheed Shah and other senior leaders. Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the original party frontrunners for the post of Pakistan Prime Minister, were not present in the meeting.
Earlier reports said that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had made the announcement at the meeting, as he had specially come to Pakistan to do so. But he did not turn up at the press conference to make the announcement which was made on behalf of Asif Ali Zardari by party spokesman Farhatullah Babar.
The statement read: "I have great pleasure in calling upon Makhdoom Yousuf Raza Gilani in the name of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to accept the heavy responsibility and lead the coalition government and the nation to greater heights and a glorious future and Makhdoom Yousuf Raza Gilani is not afraid to lead and he knows the way."
The statement also said:"My thoughts and prayers are with Makhdoom Yousuf Raza Gilani, the coalition government and the people of Pakistan. I wish them all success in the challenges that lie ahead."
"On this occasion my thoughts go to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who led from the front the fight for democracy and laid down her life. I also recall the sacrifices of those countless martyrs who valiantly fought along with her throughout the years and died for the cause. Their sacrifices have illumined the path that will be traversed by the generations to come," it added.
Babar discouraged questions on whether Gilani's selection was for an interim period, saying that there was not a single word in the statement to that effect.
It is interesting to recall that Gilani was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) courts. Should he win the contest, Gilani will be administered oath of office as the prime minister by President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday. President Pervez Musharraf has already summoned the National Assembly to meet on Monday at 4 p.m. local time to elect the new leader of the house.
The session has been summoned for ascertainment of the member who commands the confidence of the majority of members of National Assembly, under Article 91 (2A) of the Constitution. The Speaker National Assembly will intimate the President in writing the result and a notification will be published in the Gazette.
According to the Dawn and The News, the protocol wing of the Presidency is finalising the lists of invitees who will attend the ceremony. These will include the four governors, President, PM of Azad Jammu Kashmir, the Chief Justice, Attorney General, the services chiefs, leaders of political parties, ambassadors, senior officials and notables.
The oath taking ceremony will begin with the recitation from the Holy Quran and the new Prime Minister will be invited to take oath of office as provided in the Third Schedule, under the 1973 Constitution. President Musharraf will administer oath to the new Prime Minister, who, under the Constitution has to obtain a vote of confidence from the National Assembly within a period of 60 days.
Asked about Makhdoom Amin Fahim future, Zardari, who at the press conference, said he did not want to make any comment on the issue. Gilani is widely regarded as a very humble and highly educated person. He has command of several languages and is also a good listener.
Gilani started his political career in 1978 after the death of his father Makhdoom Alamdar Hussain Gilani who was also a signatory to the Pakistan Resolution. His grandfather Makhdoom Ghulam Mustafa Shah Gilani and paternal uncle Makhdoom Raza Shah Gilani both became MLAs after defeating the unionists in the 1946 elections. Makhdoom Raza Shah Gilani also held the dual office of Chairman District Board Multan.
Yousuf Raza Gillani's great grandfather Makhdoom Raja Bakhsh Gilani was both Mayor of Multan in 1921 and member of the Central Legislative Assembly of India. He remained member of the Assembly from 1921 till he died in 1936 and was known as the father of the Indian Assembly.
Yousuf Raza Gilani was elected Chairman of the District Council Multan comprising the present three districts of Khanewal, Lodhran and Multan by defeating the sitting Local Government Minister Syed Fakhr Imam.
In 1985 Yousuf Raza Gilani was elected as MNA, as an independent candidate, from Lodhran district Multan and became the Minister for Housing and Works and Railways in the Junejo Cabinet.
In 1988 he was awarded the PPP ticket and defeated the sitting Chief Minister of Punjab Mian Nawaz Sharif. In 1990 again on the PPP ticket he was elected as MNA by defeating Makhdoom Hamid Raza Gilani, an ex federal minister
In 1993 he was awarded PPP ticket and defeated Malik Sikander Hayt Bosan. He contested election in 1997 on a PPP ticket but the Party did not win a single seat in the Punjab at that time. He was sentenced in 2001 and spent several years in jail and could not contest the 2002 elections. He could have secured his release from jail by ditching the party, but refused to do so.
Yousuf Raza Gilani was made Senior Vice Chairman of the Party in 1998. In 2008 he was elected MNA after defeating the federal food minister. He has a wife, four sons and one daughter.