ISLAMABAD - With the initiation of the process for appointment of caretaker prime minister by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf by writing letter to Leader of Opposition, the overall activities for finalisation of names for the caretaker prime minister by government and opposition sides have geared up.
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali Khan in a media chat at Parliament House on Friday said that he would respond to the letter of Prime Minister in a next few days, as the consultation process with opposition parties was almost finalised and they would be sending two names to the government.
Sources aware of the development taking place on this front informed TheNation that besides this overt contact between the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition, a back-channel contact between the two parties-PML-N and PPP was also established at some other level to work out the other related matters including the truncate cabinet at federal level, the caretaker setups in provinces and dissolution of all the assemblies on same date with National Assembly on March 16.
The sources further said that though there was no legal or constitutional provision of main stakeholders role in formation of caretaker federal cabinet, both the mainstream parties wanted their hand in it and for that matter covert contacts between the two sides were already in place.
It was in this backdrop that the main stakeholders in formation of caretaker setup would not let the matter of finalisation of caretaker prime minister go to Chief Election Commissioner, as in case Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition would fail to evolve consensus on any name the matter could not be resolved in the committee as well, where both sides would have equal strength and ultimately the matter would go to Chief Election Commissioner to pick any name from the four names proposed by the Leader of Opposition and Prime Minister, hence making the caretaker PM free from any sort of moral pressure from the two main consultees.
The sources in the government informed TheNation that ruling coalition may pick any of the two names proposed by Leader of Opposition for the caretaker prime minister, provided the names proposed by Ch Nisar Ali Khan would be neutral and acceptable to the coalition partners as well. Otherwise the government would also float two names for the slot and then the consultation process between the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition would start, the sources further said.
In case both the sides would fail to evolve consensus on the matter within three days from the day of National Assembly dissolution, the Speaker National Assembly would constitute eight members committee comprising four members from both the houses two each nominated by the leaders of opposition and leaders of houses from both the houses to decide on the four names floated by the Leader of Opposition in National Assembly and Prime Minister. Again in case the committee would fail to evolve consensus on any name in three days the matter would automatically go to Chief Election Commissioner, who along with his members would pick any name from the list of four and nominate him as caretaker prime minister within two days time.
Sources close to Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) informed TheNation that the name of Justice (Retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid is final as it was also cleared by all the main opposition parties while for the second name consultations were still on as after the dropping out of the name of Justice (Retd) Shakirullah Jan on technical grounds, consultations were on with opposition parties and hopefully in next couple of days the second name would be finalised, a source in PML-N confirmed.
Meanwhile the names of Justice (Retd) Ajmal Mian, former Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Hussain and a few others were under consideration and the approval of any of these names would completely depend on the reflection of other opposition parties, the sources in the party further said. It is pertinent to mention here that earlier the names of Asma Jahangir, Mahmood Khan Achakzai and a few others were dropped out by PML-N due to strong opposition to their candidature by some opposition parties. While on the other hand the Pakistan People’s Party was keeping some of their choices close to their chest and waiting for the names to be forwarded to it by Leader of Opposition and in case they would not find any of the two names suitable then they would come up with their choices and engage in consultation process with Leader of Opposition.
The sources further said that PPP would prefer to finalise the name for caretaker prime minister and would not let the matter go to the eight-member Parliamentary Committee and then to Chief Election Commissioner. PPP could likely do the same as they had done in case of appointment of Chief Election Commissioner by picking the name from the proposed list of Leader of Opposition.
Similarly these sources in the PPP claimed that PML-N would also not forgo their right to pick the caretaker prime minister and were confident that the matter would be resolved between the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition for ‘obvious’ reasons.
Meanwhile talking to media persons at Parliament House, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali Khan said that after consultation with party leadership he would hopefully respond to the Prime Minister’s letter in two to three days and would propose two names for the caretaker prime minister.
He said that Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf was contacted earlier, however due to non serious attitude on their part it was decided that now instead of making direct contact with them the proposed names would be sent to Imran Khan via Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Munawar Hassan.
Responding to a question about MQM he said that they would not accept MQM as part of opposition and would not consult them in this matter. He alleged that MQM came on opposition benches with a planned design and said that they would not allow PPP or any of its allies to hoodwink the real opposition.