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“I have the best wishes for him,” Mr. Fahim told the Associated Press just after Mr. Gilani’s name was announced.

Mrs. Bhutto returned to Pakistan last year only to be assassinated in a suicide attack in December. Since then, Mr. Zardari has risen to become a key figure in Pakistan’s politics, and he may have considered Mr. Fahim a threat to his own political ambitions.

Mrs. Bhutto’s son was appointed party chairman after his mother’s death, but his father is running things while the 19-year-old continues his studies at Oxford University.

Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif, who was ousted in a 1999 coup by Mr. Musharraf, have pledged that their coalition will tackle the massive challenges facing Pakistan, including a wave of Islamist militancy, high inflation and electricity shortages.

They have also vowed to work to strengthen democracy.

A confrontation still looms between Mr. Musharraf and Mr. Sharif, who has been one of the most vocal in calling for the unpopular president’s resignation or impeachment.