2.37pm: Meanwhile, Saeed Shah, a journalist with The Economist for Pakistan tweets, “Kaira files papers for prime ministerial nomination, presumably in case Shahabuddin goes to jail.” Qamar Zaman Kaira is the Federal Information Minister of Pakistan.
Omar Waraich, a journalist covering Pakistan for TIME and The Independent says ‘Kaira has the rare quality of enjoying cross party appeal.’
So, will Kaira be Pakistan’s next PM?
2.18pm: Seemingly unfazed by the arrest warrant that has been issued against him, PPP Prime Ministerial candidate Makhdoom Shahabuddin has filed his candidacy papers. Speaking to reporters after filing his papers, Shahabuddin was asked about the arrest warrant. He replied quoting a line from a poem about not being afraid of “hostile winds.” He said, “Yeh to chalti hai tujhe ooncha udane ke liye” (These violent winds blow only to make you fly high) It’s unclear whether the development could derail his nomination.
Legal cases are routinely filed against Pakistani politicians by rivals as a means of weakening them. Often, the cases drag on in the courts for years, and the politician’s career is unhindered.
2.14pm: The conspiracy theories abound. A tweet by the Editor of Newsweek Pakistan Fasih Ahmed says, “SC order to arrest Makhdoom Shahabuddin came on June 7. Army-run ANF issued warrant just after Shahab filed nomination papers. Coincidence?” Another Tweeter from Pakistan says, “ANF realizes Shahabuddin a danger to society only the day he makes his bad for PM office. Is justice acquiring a wicked political sense?” adding that the warrant seemed to be designed to cause Shahabuddin embarrassment.
Meanwhile the PTI correspondent in Pakistan Rezaul Hasan Laskar says, “Of course it’s just a coincidence that the officer cadre of Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Force belong to the army”.
2.00pm: Even as the Supreme Court issues warrants against the PPP’s Prime Ministerial designate Shahabuddin, a spokesman for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party says that are endorsing the candidature of Mahtab Abbasi to contest against him in the Prime Ministerial candidate.
1.42pm: An anti-narcotics court has issued non bailable warrants against the Pakistan People’s Party Prime Ministerial designate Makhdoom Shahabuddin and ex prime Minister Gilani’s son Musa Gilani.
The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that the arrest warrant had been issued in relation to an ephedrine scam said to be worth about Rs 7 billion. The report says. “The case was registered on October 10 last year after two pharmaceutical companies – Danas Pharmaceutical and Berlex Lab International – were held responsible for obtaining export quotas for the drug in collusion with the health ministry officials that exceeded the limits fixed by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).”
The report further adds that the INCB had fixed a quota of 22,000kg of ephedrine for Pakistan for 2010-11, but the ministry of health allocated a quota of around 31,000kg after devolution.
This latest decision is likely to lend credence to theories that this episode is a personal vendetta against the PPP that has been engineered by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of the Chief Justice, has been accused of receiving payments of over Rs 342 million from property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain to influence cases in the apex court. The tycoon has acknowledged making the payments in a statement submitted to the Supreme Court, which directed authorities to take action against Iftikhar and Hussain.
“Since the Chief Justice’s son case surfaced, the case to disqualify the Prime Minister was suddenly taken up by the Supreme Court and we had the decision regarding Gilani’s disqualification,” senior PPP leader Usman Salim Malik told PTI.