23 Jun 2012

New PM in Pakistan

12:00 pm on 23 June 2012

Parliament in Pakistan has elected a new prime minister, three days after his predecessor was forced from office by the Supreme Court.

Raja Pervez Ashraf was nominated by the Pakistan People's Party and the national assembly rubber stamped his appointment on Friday by 211 votes in the lower house of parliament.

A judge on Thursday issued a warrant for the arrest of the previous candidate, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, as he was filing his nomination papers.

The prime minister and his new cabinet of 27 ministers and 11 deputy ministers have been sworn in by President Asif Ali Zardari.

General elections are due by early next year and correspondents say that Mr Ashraf's term is likely to be troubled and short.

The BBC reports the new prime minister was dogged by accusations of corruption relating to power projects when he was water and power minister. He denies the charges.

He is also likely to face a demand by the Supreme Court, as did Mr Gilani. for a corruption inquiry into Mr Zardari.

It was Mr Gilani's refusal to do so that led to his conviction for contempt in April and his disqualification from public office two months later. He argued the president had immunity from prosecution.

In his first speech to parliament after the announcement, Mr Ashraf, 61, called on Pakistani Taliban members to lay down their arms.

Mr Ashraf said his government would continue dialogue for peace with India and all other neighbouring countries including Iran and Afghanistan.