Confusion grows over elections as PM ends govt's tenure today

No name has been shortlisted for caretaker PM yet: PM Shehbaz

Shehbaz Sharif says he will write to president today to dissolve national assembly n General elections unlikely within 60 days if assemblies dissolved 3 days before mandated period n Ruling alliance yet to develop consensus on name of caretaker PM n Opposition Leader says elections likely to be delayed by 6 months after approval of digital census.

ISLAMABAD   -  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is holding meetings with the leaders of coalition parties in order to develop to consensus on the name of the caretaker prime minister as the tenure of the incumbent government expires this week.

Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday night and discussed with him the caretaker set up and the nomination of the interim PM.

While addressing a ceremony in Islamabad on Tuesday, the prime minister said that the incumbent government would complete its term on Wednesday (today) and after which they would hand over the reign of the government to an interim set-up in accordance with the Constitution.

The prime minister also confirmed that he would send the summary for the dissolution of the National Assembly today (Wednesday) to President Arif Alvi. “After completing our [coalition govt's] tenure, I will write to the president of Pakistan to dissolve the assembly,” the premier said.

The government has already announced that assemblies will be dissolved three days ahead of its mandated period, following which elections are to be held within 90 days. Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz early Tuesday said that he had not yet met or consulted the premier regarding the names for the caretaker prime minister.

“I hope to have a meeting tomorrow in which these things will be discussed,” he said, adding that the consultation would happen at “the right time”. However, Riaz said he had completed the consultation process with his allies, adding that the three names for the interim prime minister were “almost 90 percent finalised.” Later, Riaz said during a TV talks show said that the names for the caretaker PM candidates were finalised after he held three meetings with lawmakers from the opposition.

“They do not include any politicians but an economist has been shortlisted,” he said about the interim PM nominees. But, he added, former finance minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh was not among the candidates that had made it to the opposition’s final list. Riaz added he could even consider a politician for the slot if suggested by the government.

On delay in elections, Riaz said polls should ideally be held within three months but the approval of the new census had complicated matters. “I think the election will be delayed by six months,” he said.

Last week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated that the current government’s tenure will culminate on August 14, 2023, and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will announce the date for the next elections. The PM stated thus after his meeting with the chief of the ruling alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Maulana Fazlur Rehman, wherein the latter stressed the need for dissolution of assemblies and holding of general elections on time.

The current National Assembly’s tenure will end on August 12 and if it completes its stipulated time then elections are supposed to take place within 60 days. However, the Constitution states that the polls must be held within 90 days if the assembly is dissolved before the completion of its tenure.

But, after the Council of Common Interests (CCI) in its meeting last week approved the census 2023, the general elections scheduled for November are likely to be delayed till next year as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is now required to carry out fresh delimitation of constituencies.

An official statement issued following the CCI meeting said the new census results were approved by all members including four chief ministers with consensus.

Outgoing PM Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday denied that name of any candidates for the post of caretaker PM has been finalised. “No. None till now … no name has been shortlisted,” he said during an interview with a private TV channel.

Meanwhile, Maulana Fazlur Rehman also suggested two names to the PM and empowered him to pick any name from the allies. Sources told The Nation that dispute erupted between PPP and PML-N leadership on the name of caretaker PM as PPP is sticking to the name of a former judge of the Sindh High Court Justice (r) Maqbool Baqir as caretaker PM however PMLN has rejected these names.

In a surprising development former PM Nawaz Sharif suggested the names of Fawad Hasan Fawad and justice (r) Khalil Ur Rehman Ramday which PPP rejected. Both parties could not develop consensus on Hafeez Shaikh and Ishratul Ibaad. Both PPP and PML-N leadership is also expected to hold consultations on Wednesday to remove impasse on caretaker PM.

Former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s name is also out of the top list as his own party backtracked from supporting him. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also remained in touch with his brother in London on the process. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called the farewell meeting of the federal cabinet on Wednesday (today) in which he would get cabinet approval on the caretaker PM and set up.

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