Pakistani parties name presidential candidates

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani political parties on Wednesday nominated their candidates for the upcoming presidential election, with the ruling party’s candidate seen as the front-runner, officials and analysts said.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party nominated Mamnoon Hussain, a former governor of southern Sindh province, said Tariq Azeem, a party spokesman.

“We are confident that Mamnoon Hussain will play a positive role in solving the problems facing the country,” Azeem said.

The post of president in Pakistan became largely ceremonial in 2010 when parliament passed a constitutional amendment that transferred significant power to the prime minister.

The term of the current president, Asif Ali Zardari, expires in early September.

The presidential election will be held on July 30, said a senior member of the ruling party, Raja Zafarul Haq. The election was originally scheduled to be held on August 6, but the Supreme Court accepted the ruling party’s request that the date be brought forward slightly to accommodate lawmakers travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage during the first week of August.

In Pakistan, the president is not elected by popular vote, but by voting in the Senate, National Assembly and the assemblies of the four provinces.

Political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said Hussain was likely to win the election because the ruling party has a majority in the National Assembly and the assembly of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab.

“It’s just a numbers game,” Rizvi said. “Anyone who gets the support of the ruling party can become the president.”

Flanked by top leaders from the ruling party, Hussain submitted his nomination papers to the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday.

“I will be the president for everybody,” said Hussain. “I will resign from my party office if I become president.”

During his term, Zardari, faced constant criticism for heading the Pakistan People’s Party at the same time as he was president. He was eventually forced by a court to relinquish his party leadership position.

Zardari’s party nominated senior politician Raza Rabbani for president on Wednesday, while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, headed by former cricket star Imran Khan, nominated a retired judge as its candidate.

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