Zardari Changes Prime Minister Candidates After Warrant Issued; Viral Video Mocks Powerful in Pakistan

In a week that has seen rapid changes in Pakistan’s civilian government, it appears that President Asif Ali Zardari’s political party, the PPP, has had to change its choice to replace Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was ousted earlier in the week by the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the PPP announced Makhdoom Shahabuddin as their choice for Prime Minister:

President Asif Ali Zardari nominated Shahabuddin to form a new cabinet after the Supreme Court dismissed Gilani for contempt on Tuesday.

A consensus choice and a loyalist, Shahabuddin was briefly finance minister during the 1993-1996 premiership of Benazir Bhutto, Zardari’s wife who was assassinated in 2007.

His nomination was announced after more than 24 hours of crisis talks and intense horse trading between Zardari and members of his fractious ruling coalition.

In brief remarks at the national assembly, Shahabuddin showcased his loyalty by thanking Zardari and extending greetings to members of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on the birthday of his late wife.

“I am thankful from the bottom of my heart (to Zardari),” he told reporters.

“Today is a special day because it is Benazir Bhutto’s birthday and I send my congratulations on this birthday to all party workers,” he added.

That plan appears already to have come to a complete halt, as an arrest warrant was issued today for Shahbuddin:

A non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Makhdoom Shahabuddin in the ephedrine quota case, DawnNews reported.

President Zardari had nominated Shahabuddin as a candidate for the new prime minister. He had also filed his nomination papers for the slot on Thursday.

The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) issued warrants against Shahabuddin, Musa Gilani and one other person.

Earlier on June 7, Regional Director of the ANF Brig Fahim Ahmed Khan had told the Supreme Court that the ANF had widened its inquiry against Shahabuddin who he said had ordered the local conversion of ephedrine after Berlex Lab International and Danas Pharma (Pvt) Ltd failed to export asthma drugs to Afghanistan.

The ephedrine scam had come to light in April when the ANF informed a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, that the ephedrine quota worth Rs7 billion was given to two Multan-based companies on the pressure of an influential person.

Yes, the Gilani mentioned above is the son of the former Prime Minister. From Reuters: Read more

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.