ISLAMABAD - Raja Pervez Ashraf, who on Friday was elected as the 25th Prime Minister of Pakistan, was the second choice of President Asif Ali Zardari, also the PPP co-chairman, for the vacant slot.
He became the main candidate after an arrest warrant was issued against the party’s first nominee, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, for alleged irregularities during his tenure as health minister in Yousuf Raza Gilani’s cabinet.
Ashraf, a senior PPP leader, hails from the Gujar Khan tehsil of Rawalpindi. He was born in Sanghar district of Sindh on December 26, 1950.
A strong loyalist of the Bhutto family, Ashraf was secretary-general of the PPP (Parliamentarians), a party formed in 2002 by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for the purpose of complying with the electoral rules governing the country’s political parties. The party contested the 2002 elections while the then party chief, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was living in self-imposed exile. Ashraf was elected to the National Assembly from the Gujar Khan constituency in in the 2002 and 2008 general polls. He has served twice in the cabinet of Gilani, who was disqualified as prime minister by the Supreme Court on June 19. He has held the water and power and information technology portfolios. Like Shahabuddin, the new premier is also facing a probe for the alleged corruption in rental power projects during his tenure as water and power minister.
He resigned from Gilani’s cabinet in February last year after allegations of corruption in power projects. He returned to the cabinet in April this year when he was appointed as minister for information technology. Ashraf’s candidature for the Prime Minister was backed by PML-Q, a major ally of the PPP which has more than 50 seats in the National Assembly.