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Pakistan: Raja Pervaiz Ashraf elected as prime minister

Pakistani Parliament elected Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as prime minister.

Pakistan prime minister raja pervaiz ashraf elected june 22 2012Enlarge
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, from the ruling Pakistan People's Party, was elected prime minister by Pakistan's parliament in Islamabad on June 22, 2102. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan's parliament elected former minister for water and power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as the country's new prime minister on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Ashraf will be replacing Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was found in contempt by the Supreme Court and dismissed on Tuesday for refusing to launch an investigation into corruption charges against the president.

The members of parliament cast their votes 211 in favor of Ashraf and 89 against, according to The New York Times. Ashraf himself is dogged by corruption allegations and was partly blamed for the electricity shortages that caused violent riots in Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province.

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President Asif Ali Zardari, of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), endorsed Ashraf on Friday.

The PPP had earlier nominated the textiles minister to replace Gilani but an arrest warrant was issued for him by an anti-narcotics court, a move believed to have been orchestrated by the military, Reuters reported.

The AP noted that Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is likely to make the same demands of Ashraf as were made of Gilani, leading to him meeting the same fate as Gilani in a few months.

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A senior PPP member said that pressures on the coalition mean general elections will likely be moved up from March 2013 to this year, said the AP.

The corruption case in question dates back to allegations that Zardari laundered state money in Switzerland in the decade before the 2000s.

It remains to be seen how long Ashraf lasts in the balancing act between the civilian government, the judiciary and Pakistan's powerful military. The BBC noted that Pakistan also has an economic crisis, worsening relations with the United States and a militant insurgency on its border with Afghanistan to contend with.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120622/pakistan-raja-pervaiz-ashraf-elected-prime-minist