Pakistan's Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, designated by President Pervez Musharraf as the country's next prime minister, today filed his nomination papers from Attock in Punjab province to contest for a seat in the National Assembly.
Aziz, an international banker-turned-finance minister, is contesting from two constituencies -- Attock in Punjab and Tharparkar in Sind. He would file nomination papers from Tharparkar tomorrow.
The opposition parties are hunting for a strong candidate to field against Aziz, and reports in Islamabad said that cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan may stand against him. But given the division in the opposition ranks, Aziz is expected to win. Imran Khan, incidentally, is already a member of the National Assembly.
The finance minister led a procession of hundreds of supporters to Attock, 80 km northwest of Islamabad, to file the nomination papers, reports in Islamabad said.
The two constituencies were previously held by the members of Musharraf-backed ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) and were specially vacated for Aziz, who is a Senator, to enable him to become a member of the National Assembly. Under Pakistan's constitution, it is mandatory requirement to be a member of National Assembly to become the prime minister.
Aziz is slated to succeed present Prime Minister and PML-Q chief Chawdhary Shujaat Hussain who took over after the resignation of Zafarullah Khan Jamali.
The Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), comprising mainstream moderate parties, has declined to join the Islamic alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e Amal, to put up a common candidate against Aziz. Thus, both combinations are expected to field different candidates.
The filing of nomination papers would end on July 8 and the elections would be held on August 18.
More reports from Pakistan