ISLAMABAD: The appointment of the caretaker prime minister is anticipated to be concluded today (Saturday) as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to engage in the third round of consultations with Opposition Leader Raja Riaz in the nation’s capital.
Deadline Approaches: Parliamentary Committee Standby
If an agreement on a nominee is not reached today, which marks the third and final day for making a decision subsequent to the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 9, the matter will then be referred to a parliamentary committee.
Crucial Decision Ahead: PM Shehbaz’s Optimism
In a speech last night, during a dinner organized for coalition party leaders, PM Shehbaz communicated the forthcoming crucial decision-making meeting with Riaz, expressing optimism that a name will be decided upon.
Consultation Continues: Proposed Name for Interim PM
Reports indicate that Opposition Leader Raja Riaz has proposed the name of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani for the position of interim prime minister, with general elections projected to occur early next year.
President’s Reminder: Deadline for Suitable Nominee
The prime minister’s remarks follow a letter from President Dr. Arif Alvi, reminding both him and the opposition leader to propose a “suitable person” for the interim premier by August 12 (Saturday).
Constitutional Responsibility: Article 224A Reminder
In his letter to both PM Shehbaz and Riaz, the president reminded them of their responsibility under Article 224A to put forward a name for the caretaker prime minister within three days of the National Assembly’s dissolution.
PM’s Response: Unfortunate Presidential Letter
Responding to President Alvi’s letter, PM Shehbaz commented, “It is unfortunate that the president of Pakistan has written a letter.” The premier added that the president had requested him to submit the name of the caretaker prime minister by midnight on Saturday.
Process Details: Eight-Day Span for Nomination
PM Shehbaz noted that the process of finalizing an interim prime minister’s name spans eight days.
Parliamentary Involvement: Role of Committee and ECP
As per the country’s Constitution, if the prime minister and the opposition leader fail to reach a consensus within three days, the matter is referred to a parliamentary committee for the selection of a caretaker PM. Under the law, the premier and the opposition leader will forward their respective preferences to the parliamentary delegation. The parliamentary committee will then have three days to decide on the name of the caretaker prime minister. Should the committee also fail to agree on a name, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will select the caretaker prime minister within two days from the names proposed by both the opposition and the government.
Coalition Input: Consultation with Partners
During discussions with journalists in Islamabad on Friday, the premier stated that coalition partners will be consulted before arriving at a final decision.
Party’s Approach: Nawaz’s Position and Economic Continuity
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) politician Ahsan Iqbal discussed the initial meeting between the premier and Riaz on Thursday (August 10) to determine the interim premier’s name, after which PM Shehbaz engaged with allies for consultation.
“It is expected that the decision will be reached through consensus, which involves extensive consultation,” he remarked, highlighting how deliberations can contribute to the process’s gradual pace.
Iqbal, speaking on the Private TV Channel, indicated that the matter of the caretaker prime minister will be resolved amicably. He also clarified that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif has not insisted on a specific name. In fact, the party seeks a decision that serves the country’s best interests, namely continuing the economic policies of the Shehbaz-led government amid Pakistan’s economic condition.
“Continuity is crucial in the country’s economic situation,” Iqbal asserted. Iqbal’s remarks respond to assumptions that his party is pushing for its own members to hold the esteemed position.
Meanwhile, the PML-N has not officially proposed any names, although mentions of former finance minister Ishaq Dar and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi have circulated in recent weeks. The minister affirmed that the caretaker prime minister will independently assemble their caretaker cabinet.