LAHORE - The name of Abdul Razak Dawood – a former commerce minister and world renowned corporate icon – has appeared among the possible candidates for caretake prime minister, reliable sources told The Nation on Sunday.
Earlier, the names of Chief Justice (r) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, distinguished economist Dr Hafeez Pasha and former State Bank of Pakistan governor Ishrat Hussain were tipped as the possible choices for the key position.
The names for the federal cabinet have also been doing the rounds and the key people whose names are being mentioned by different sources include Maleeha Lodhi, Barrister Taimur Malik, Abbas Khan, Shakil Durrani, Taimur Azmat Osman, Dr Adeeb Rizvi, Khurram Shehzad Chughtai, Ameena Zafar Cheema, Dr Salman Shah, Mushtaq Chhapra and Col (r) Ihsan-ur-Rehman.
According to the credentials available with The Nation, the expected candidates have recognition for their positive roles in their respective fields. The final list, the reliable sources said, would only become known once the name of the caretaker prime minister is finalised but it is likely that most of the names mentioned above would be part of the caretaker setup.
The previous caretaker governments have also included prominent technocrats, retired civil servants, retired judges and generals. However, the names mentioned above give the impression that the stakeholders are serious about having a neutral and very competent team in place this time to ensure a smooth and timely transition of government.
Article 224 of the Constitution mandates that general elections shall be held within 60 days following the date on which the term of the Assembly is due to expire and that a caretaker Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the prime minister and the Leader of the Opposition of the outgoing National Assembly. The members of the caretaker cabinet are in turn to be appointed in consultation with the caretaker prime minister.
Clause A of the same article provides that in case the outgoing prime minister and Leader of Opposition do not agree on any name for the caretaker PM then within three days of the dissolution of the assembly, they shall forward two nominees each to a parliamentary committee to be immediately constituted by the NA speaker.
The committee shall comprise eight members of the national assembly or the Senate, or both, having equal representation from the Treasury and the Opposition, to be nominated by the prime minister and Leader of Opposition respectively. This committee will have three days to finalise the name of the caretaker PM. If the committee too fails to reach a consensus, the names of the nominees shall be referred to the Election Commission of Pakistan for final decision within two days.
The main mandate of the caretaker government is to ensure free and fair elections in the country. The caretaker government is neither expected and nor specifically mandated to undertake major policy decisions.
However, in the absence of a clear framework for the caretaker government’s mandate and in view of the many significant internal and external challenges facing the country, the caretaker cabinet would need to be on its toes even if it is not taking any long term decisions.
Profiles of probable
The names of Miss Lodhi, Barrister Taimur and Dr Salman also suggest that the decision makers are keen to have ministers who can handle key international issues - such as FATF - which are likely to heat-up and be very important for the country.
Maleeha Lodhi is a seasoned foreign relations specialist currently representing Pakistan at the UN as the country’s Permanent Representative. She has previously been Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States and is likely to be given the Foreign Affairs portfolio in view of her diplomatic experience in the US, the UK and at the UN. This will be her first ministerial position.
Barrister Taimur is an international lawyer and founder of Courting the Law and other law and justice initiatives in Pakistan. He is also a former executive director of the Research Society of International Law Pakistan. Educated at Lincoln’s Inn and Oxford, he is one of Pakistan’s few experts on international legal matters such as FATF and the case of Indian spy Jadhav which is pending at the International Court of Justice.
Sources in the legal fraternity also highlight his role in developing a platform for debate on domestic legal issues through CourtingTheLaw.com. He is being considered for the position of the Minister of Law and Justice, Parliamentary Affairs, Human Rights as well as for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development.
Abbas Khan is a former police officer and is being considered for the Railways or Interior Ministry. He was under consideration in 2013 as the caretaker chief minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He recently led the Police Station Reform committee for the Wafaqi Mohtasib of Pakistan.
Shakil Durrani is a former chief secretary and Wapda chairman and is likely to be given the portfolio of Inter-Provincial Coordination and Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, or the Ministry of Energy.
Taimur Azmat is a former establishment secretary and information secretary. He may be handed the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Communications based on his prior experience in this area.
Dr Adeeb Rizvi is one of Pakistan's most respected health professionals and the founder of Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation. He has recently been requested by the Supreme Court to assist on certain matters in the health sector. He will probably get the health portfolio.
Khurram Chughtai is a public sector ICT and IP Counsel as well as cyber law academician who gained prominence for his case at the Supreme Court regarding the auction of the 3G/4G licences. More recently, he represented the Government of Punjab in the Orange Line Metro project at Unesco as well as in Pakistan. Chughtai remained associated with PTCL, PTET, IT and Telecom Division for post privatisation issues of PTCL. He is probably in line for the IT and Telecommunications Ministry.
Amena Zafar Cheema is a former CEO of Punjab Board of Investment and Trade and an expert on CPEC matters especially related to special economic zones. She may get the Ports and Shipping portfolio. A Columbia University scholar, she has held various advisory positions at Pakistan’s diplomatic mission to the UN as well as at the UN headquarters.
Dr Salman Shah is a leading economist and former caretaker finance minister and adviser to then finance minister Shaukat Aziz. He is well versed with matters related to international financial institutions and is being considered as a reliable choice for the finance ministry.
Mushtaq Chhapra is a Karachi based businessman known for his work as a founding director of The Citizens Foundation (TCF), which educates hundreds of thousands of students at high standard TCF schools across Pakistan. He has been awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz by the government. He will most probably be chosen for the Federal Education and Professional Training Ministry.
Col (r) Ihsan-ur-Rehman is a former military and police officer with substantial law enforcement and investigation experience. He is a former Commandant of the Military Police Training Institute as well as the Motorway Police Training Institute. He was also associated with various high profile anti-corruption and intelligence investigations. He is thought to be a good choice for the post of the interior minister.
The names of some retired generals are being considered for defence ministry.