Rawalpindi: Makhdoom Shahabuddin is set to be elected as Pakistan's 17th Prime Minister on Friday when the National Assembly or Lower House of the parliament will elect new leader of the house.
President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday chose Shahabuddin for the highest post after hectic consultations with leaders of his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), lawmakers and leaders of allied groups over the past two days. He was nominated for the slot after the Supreme Court disqualified Yusuf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister for contempt of court on Tuesday.
Makhdoom Shahabuddin was born on April 7, 1947 in District Rahim Yar Khan in eastern Punjab province. He belongs to an influential political family in southern parts of Punjab province. He had been elected member of the National Assembly few times.
He served as Minister for Finance during the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government from 1993 to 1996 when slain leader Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister for second time. He was made Minister for Health when PPP formed Government after the 2008 election. He served Minister for Textiles until the Supreme Court dissolved Cabinet on Tuesday with disqualification of Yusuf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister.
Despite his background as a student of law, Makhdoom Shahabuddin has made a name for himself primarily as a politician and agriculturalist.
He is the custodian of Sufi Saint, Makhdoom Hameeduddin Hakim, thus having a large number of followers in his area.
Shahabuddin studied until 10th class at Sadiq Public School Bahawalpur city in Punjab, spending his first intermediate year at Government College Rahim Yar Khan before migrating to study in Lahore, the capital of Punjab.
While Shahabuddin's political career started with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), he largely witnessed success as part of PPP.
He contested his first election from his hometown in 1988 with the PML ticket, losing to his uncle contesting the constituency with a PPP ticket. Contesting the same constituency in 1990 with the PPP ticket, Shahabuddin defeated his cousin and was elected as a member of the National Assembly.
In 1993, he won the constituency's seat again, defeating his uncle Makhdoom Ruknuddin, and served as the Treasury Minister in Benazir Bhutto's government subsequently. Shahabuddin was elected as the chairman of the Southern Peoples Party, when President Asif Ali Zardari, as acting PPP chairman, established a separate chapter for southern Punjab. He is also part of PPP's central executive committee.
Shahabuddin is considered a strong loyalist to the PPP and political analysts say that President Zardari thinks the new Prime Minister would stand like Gilani against any possible orders by the Supreme Court for reopening corruption cases. Gilani had refused to accept the apex court orders to reopen graft cases against President Zardari. (Xinhua-ANI)