New Pakistan PM Takes Reins Amid Challenges

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf pledges support for the country's new government, calling it an era of real democracy.

But Pakistan's incoming prime minister, former parliament speaker Yousaf Raza Gilani of the late Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party, faces a truly daunting task.

The country is in the throes of a relentless bombing campaign by Islamist militants, while extremists have been growing stronger in the tribal areas and the economy is a mess.

Pakistan Peoples Party Names Prime Minister Pick

Farhatullah Babar reads a statement from the Pakistan Peoples Party. i i

Pakistan Peoples Party spokesman Farhatullah Babar announces that the party has named Yousaf Raza Gilani as its candidate to be prime minister. Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images
Farhatullah Babar reads a statement from the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Pakistan Peoples Party spokesman Farhatullah Babar announces that the party has named Yousaf Raza Gilani as its candidate to be prime minister.

Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

The party of assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Saturday named its candidate for prime minister: Yousaf Raza Gilani. He's all but certain to be elected to the position by the National Assembly on Monday.

Gilani is a veteran member of the leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party, a former speaker of parliament and was an aide to Bhutto. There's speculation that Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, will eventually seek to become prime minister but to be eligible he needs to first win a seat in a by-election in parliament. That could happen as early as this summer, so it's possible Gilani might not hold the post for very long.

For the past eight years, all power has resided in the hands of the president, U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf. It is uncertain how much power the prime minister will have in the coalition government, which is an alliance between two parties that oppose him.

Washington will be watching the new government very closely. Government leaders are talking about putting more emphasis on negotiating with militants, particularly the Taliban in the tribal areas.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.