Pakistan’s new prime minister has a tough job

Raja Pervez Ashraf’s job is no piece of cake

Pakistan’s new prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, formally assumed office on Saturday and is facing  tough challenges ahead, with the most daunting ones being the energy crisis, corruption, dealing with independent judiciary, aggressive opposition groups and the revival of normal relationship with the United States.

Ashraf took over three days after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that his predecessor, Yusuf Raza Gilani, is disqualified from holding office. He was convicted of contempt of court for refusing to re-open corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Corruption cases

Ashraf faces internal and external problems and the most challenging issue remains corruption cases that he himself and several key leaders of his ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are presently facing.

Shortly before his election as new prime minister, Pervez Ashraf received a message from the Supreme Court that it is set to resume next week hearing of a controversial amnesty law, which has been the major reason for Gilani’s exit.

The apex court scrapped the National Reconciliation Ordinance in 2009 and reopened all corruption cases including those against President Asif Ali Zardari and nearly 8,000 people, mostly politicians.

The Supreme Court pressed Gilani to reopen cases against President Zardari, but he refused to accept the court’s orders. Gilani’s refusal to write to Swiss authorities for reopening of corruption cases against President Zardari showed him the door and now the new prime minister will have to receive the same court’s orders.

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