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Name of caretaker premier to be finalised by tomorrow: PM Shehbaz

ISLAMABAD, AUG 11: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday that the name of the caretaker premier would be finalised by tomorrow (August 12).

According to state-run Radio Pakistan, the prime minister confirmed this in a conversation with journalists in Islamabad. “Coalition partners will be taken into confidence over the matter before taking a final decision,” it quoted him as saying.

PM Shehbaz also said that the Constitution provided eight days for the appointment of the caretaker premier.

A day after the premature dissolution of the National Assembly, PM Shehbaz met outgoing Leader of the Opposition in the NA Raja Riaz to exchange a list of probable candidates for the coveted slot as formal consultations on the matter kicked off.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Riaz had said six names were under consideration, adding that they were in no hurry to decide the name for the caretaker PM.

The leaders are also expected to hold a second meeting today for further deliberations.

According to the Constitution, the premier and the outgoing opposition leader in the NA have three days to decide the name of the interim prime minister.

In case the two fail to agree on a name, the matter would be referred to a parliamentary committee. If the committee fails to make any decision, then the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will have two days to choose the caretaker prime minister from the list of names shared with the commission.

Some in political circles believe that PM Shehbaz wants to stay in office till Aug 14 so he could attend the flag-hoisting ceremony on Independence Day, after which a caretaker premier will take an oath.

As per the Constitution, PM Shehbaz can act as the caretaker prime minister till the appointment of the head of the interim set-up. Article 94 of the Constitution says, “The president may ask the prime minister to continue to hold office until his successor enters upon the office of prime minister.”

One of the reasons for delay in deciding the name of the head of interim set-up is believed to be the PML-N’s desire to see its own man in office. Sources said PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari were calling the shots on the issue of the appointment of the caretaker PM in consultation with the “third party”.

President writes letter to PM, Riaz

Earlier today, President Arif Alvi asked PM Shehbaz and Riaz to propose a name for the appointment of caretaker premier by tomorrow (August 12).

In a letter written to PM Shehbaz and Riaz today, the president recalled that he had dissolved the NA on the former’s advice on Aug 9.

“Under Provision of Article 224 (1A) of the Constitution, the president appoints the caretaker prime minister in consultation with the [outgoing] prime minister and leader of the opposition in the outgoing NA.

“Under Article 224A of the Constitution, PM and leader of the opposition in the outgoing NA are required to propose the name of a person for the appointment of caretaker prime minister within three days of the dissolution of the NA,” he said.

Alvi then directed PM Shehbaz and Riaz to propose the name of the interim premier “not later than August 12”.

Commenting on the letter while talking to journalists later in the day, PM Shehbaz expressed displeasure and asked why Alvi was “in a hurry”.

Senate committee meetings postponed

Meanwhile, the Senate Secretariat has postponed its committee meetings until the appointment of the caretaker government.

In a notification issued today, it said: “Consequent upon the dissolution of the National Assembly, the prime minister as well as the federal ministers and ministers of state have ceased to hold the office. Furthermore, the caretaker prime minister and cabinet are yet to be appointed,

“Therefore, the competent authority has directed to postpone all Senate committee meetings till the notification of caretaker prime minister/cabinet.”

It also said that the “time for presentation of reports on legislative (bills introduced in the Senate) and non-legislative business referred to the committee” was halted.

More names

As both sides held the names of nominees close to their chest after Thursday’s meeting, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani also emerged as “one of the strongest contenders” for the coveted slot.

He held separate meetings with PM Shehbaz and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

A senior leader of the PML-N told Dawn that Sanjrani was “one of the strongest candidates”. “The Senate chairman can be the dark horse,” he said while referring to Defence Minister Khawaja Asif who had first used the term “dark horse”.

Other possible contenders are Jilal Abbas Jilani, former finance ministers Dr Hafeez Sheikh and Ishaq Dar, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, ex-principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad, ex-justice Tassaduq Jilani, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pir Pagaro, and Makhdoom Mehmood Ahmed.

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