Islamabad, June 20 (IANS) Senior PPP leader Makhdoom Shahabuddin has been short-listed as one of the candidates for Pakistan prime minister's post following a Supreme Court ruling disqualifying Yousuf Raza Gilani in a contempt case, media reported Wednesday.
Presently a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan (February 2008 onwards) and textiles minister, Shahabuddin has earlier held the portfolios of federal minister for finance and health in the Gilani-led government.
Coming from Punjab province's Rahim Yar Khan city, Shahabuddin has been politically affiliated to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), headed by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.
Shahabuddin and Ahmad Mukhtar Chaudhry, minister for water and power, turned strong prime ministerial contenders after the Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that Gilani stood disqualified as prime minister as well as member of parliament.
The latest ruling came following the apex court's April 26 verdict holding Gilani in contempt of court for refusing to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against Zardari.
Meanwhile, a Pakistani daily reported Wednesday that Shahabuddin, who is one of the prime ministerial candidates, could face arrest anytime by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).
According to the News International, Shahabuddin's arrest is possible in connection with the issuing of unauthorised drug quota to a pharmaceuticals firm. The ephedrine case is being heard by the Supreme Court.
His arrest is a matter of time. He can be taken into custody anytime, said a well-placed ANF official privy to the investigation into the drug case that made headlines after the alleged involvement of Ali Musa Gilani, the outgoing prime minister's son.
A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had already directed the ANF to arrest Shahabuddin, who had approved the ephedrine quota.
An ANF official said the investigators had undeniable evidence of Shahabuddin's involvement in the ephedrine case.
He was the man who being the health minister issued quota to Danas Pharma, the report quoted the official who requested anonymity as saying.
The ANF had last summoned Shahabuddin in May for interrogation. Though he admitted issuing the quota, he pleaded innocence, saying he was unaware of the purpose and persons behind the move.
The Supreme Court has directed the ANF to arrest Shahabuddin for issuing unauthorised drug quota to Danas Pharma with Ali Musa Gilani as the principal beneficiary of such sanction.