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October 20, 2010

How Humayun lost prime minister’s slot The story of how Mush picked his PM


October 20, 2010

Premier intelligence agencies and influential but non-political aides to former president Pervez Musharraf had short-listed a total of 20 names for consideration to pick up one of them as the successor to the then prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali.
Almost all these persons, then considered important politically, were either defeated in the subsequent general elections or preferred not to jump in the electoral fray or simply fled the country believing that Pakistan is not a place to live in.
Some of them included (now deceased) Malik Allah Yar Khan, Humayun Akhtar, Shaukat Aziz, Naseer Khan, Jehangir Tareen and Tariq Aziz, former confidants of Musharraf told ‘The News’.
Only Jehangir Tareen was able to make it to the National Assembly once again in the 2008 elections on the ticket of the Functional League.
The aides said Musharraf and top intelligence guns had separately interviewed each and every one figuring in the list and prepared a chart about their credentials and personal presentations.
They said the short-listed names were finalised after screening all members of the National Assembly and even some who were not elected members.
“Shaukat Aziz, the then finance minister, was knocked out in the first round of consideration for being of no consequence,” a former Musharraf associate said.
He said Malik Allah Yar Khan hailing from Attock was the choice of Tariq Aziz, the then principal secretary to Musharraf, for his honesty and integrity in his long political career.
“However, Musharraf was not impressed with Allah Yar when he interviewed him, and one of his main arguments against him was that the MNA is not keeping a good health and will not be able to bear the high pressure job of the prime minister,” he said.
Another aide said that Tariq Aziz’s name was included in the list for the mere fact that he, being a close friend of Musharraf, was unexpected to create any problems for him. However, he

refused to accept the assignment.
The source said there was a complete consensus on Humayun Akhtar’s name for the top slot, but just 36 hours before the formal announcement, he was replaced with Shaukat Aziz by Musharraf for reasons most of his close associates failed to comprehend.
The source said not only Tariq Aziz, but some other close associates of Musharraf also strongly opposed Shaukat Aziz’s choice, arguing that his induction as prime minister would bring no political benefits to the government in the short or long terms.
Now all those who had resisted Shaukat Aziz’s nomination say that he simply escaped from the country the moment he was out of the prime minister’s office, which, they argue, proves their assertion. At no stage, they say, he defended Musharraf in any way when the latter was in hot waters.
Those who supported Humayun Akhtar for the top office were of the view that he has the drive, energy and determination to make political space for the PML-Q. They said the kind of money he has and his habit to spend anything for his politics was an added factor.
However, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi turned out to be his greatest opponents, they said, adding the Chaudhrys thought that after his elevation he might hijack the party from them.
When contacted, former finance adviser Dr. Salman Shah said Shaukat Aziz was made prime minister because of his good performance as finance minister. According to him, though Shaukat Aziz was not a politician, he had the leadership qualities that he showed as prime minister, and the country saw development during his tenure.
A former federal minister in the Shaukat Aziz cabinet said on condition of anonymity that the Chaudhrys blocked Humayun Akhtar’s elevation as prime minister, believing that he would be a political threat to them. He said that they favoured Shaukat Aziz for the reasons that he has no political backing and would be a safe bet for them.

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