Friday, August 20
Ex-US banker to become Pakistan premier
Tahir Ikram, Reuters, August 19, 2004

ISLAMABAD - Plucked from Citibank in New York to become finance minister after a 1999 military coup in Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz is just days away from becoming the 23rd prime minister of the turbulent South Asian nation.

The urbane former banker, 55, got a taste of the challenges ahead when he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt that killed his driver and eight others as he campaigned for a seat in the lower house of parliament on July 30.

Undeterred, Aziz won his seat on Wednesday by a big margin, clearing the way for him to become prime minister next week.

Colleagues say the media-savvy and soft-spoken Aziz has shown his leadership qualities by turning round an economy that was virtually bankrupt when General Musharraf seized power in 1999.

He is expected to have a more hands-on role as prime minister than his predecessor, Zafarullah Khan Jamali, especially when it comes to running the economy.

But analysts say ultimate power will remain in Musharraf's hands, while political affairs will be managed by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who has been filling in as a temporary prime minister since June. [... more]

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