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Hafeez Shaikh may become caretaker prime minister

BY A.M.BHATTI

ISLAMABAD (DNA) -Former finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is a strong candidate for the post of caretaker prime minister. Sources say that is why he has left the job of finance minister almost 20 days before wrapping up of the government. However there are many ifs and buts attached to Hafeez Shaikh’s candidature.

As regards sitting PPP, it would not mind if Hafeez Shaikh becomes a candidate for the top job. Some say when PPP supports Hafeez Shaikh for the post, it is in fact playing politics with Shaikh. Hafeez Shaikh is a senator as well and he was elected on the strength of PPP so when he is no more finance minister the PPP would like to get this seat back and elect one of its staunch party worker. So they are sort of giving lolly pop Shaikh in order to make him leave the Senate seat.

There is another view that Hafeez Shaikh was made to leave the post of finance minister because he had developed differences with President Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. Both these wanted to have more and more funds for their MPs in order to spend in constituenices to attract voters but Hafeez Shaikh refused to give these funds. Hafeez Shaikh had also objected to many proposasl of the petroleum ministry headed by President’s close friend Dr. Asim, says proposals were just wastage of money. Likewise he refused to give  out of proportion grants for prime minister’s city. The new finance minister Saleem Mandviwala is another close friend of the President.

PML N may not like Hafeez Shaikh either knowing the fact that he has been a finance of minister of PPP. However there is on possibility that PML N may support him. N knows some hard decisions will have to be taken in order to revive the economy and get some breather from the IMF and other financial institutions. So Hafeez Shaikh is suitable in the sense that he can take hard decisions, which the political government would never like to take so as to avoid any backlash from it voters because in case of getting some support from the IMF, or World Bank, ordinary people will have to suffer a lot.

Military’s role will also be central in the formation of caretaker set up and appointment of the prime minister. It is an open secret that Hafeeez Shaikh was recommended by the army for the job of finance minister and sources claim he quit job of finance minister after getting some green signals from the military people. So no doubt he will be a favoured candidate of army for the post of caretaker prime minsiter. Army believes, and quite rightly, that Hafeez Shaikh is an honest person and can deliver provided given a free hand.

Other political parties such as PTI, JI may have objections over the appointment of Hafeez Shaikh but at the end of the they may also accede to the proposal after getting guarantees from the forces that-be.






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