Accessibility links

Pakistan's Caretaker Prime Minister Steps Down - 2004-08-25

Pakistan's caretaker prime minister has stepped down, clearing the way for Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz to take control of the country's Parliament.

Interim Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain announced his resignation on Wednesday, saying that Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz would be formally voted into office in the next few days.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League United faction chose Mr. Hussain to serve as caretaker prime minister in late June. That allowed time for the party's permanent choice as prime minister, Mr. Aziz, to run in by-elections for a seat in Parliament and qualify for the top post.

The prime minister is considered less important than the president, Pervez Musharraf, who sets most of Pakistan's policy and can dismiss Parliament and prime minister at will.

Ruling party officials, such as Mr. Hussain, say the choice of Mr. Aziz shows a new emphasis on economic issues.

Speaking the evening before his resignation, Mr. Hussain said the performance of the government will be judged on economic issues.

Elections for Pakistan's lower house of Parliament are slated for 2006, while voters will pick new upper house members in 2007.

Mr. Aziz, a former banker credited with a recent boost in Pakistan's economic growth, survived an assassination attempt during his parliamentary campaign.

Pakistani officials attributed the failed suicide bombing to militants opposed to Pakistan's crackdown on suspected terrorists.