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Five names for caretaker PM shortlisted, reveals Khawaja Asif



Undated photo of Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. — AFP
  • Defence minister says elections should take place prior to 90 days.
  • Kh Asif says he is still “cautious” about PPP supremo Asif Zardari.
  • Raja Riaz expected to meet PM Shehbaz on Wednesday.

ISLAMABAD: According to Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have decided that a politician will be selected for the coveted post of the caretaker prime minister and have shortlisted five names for it, The News reported Saturday.

He further said he was not offered the slot. 

“The PPP and the PML-N together have finalised four to five names which will be discussed with other parties,” he elaborated, adding that a name would be finalised within a week.

The defence minister also added: “The leadership of allied parties will make a final decision in this regard. In my view, elections should be held in 90 days and this too suits us. 

It is my personal opinion that elections should take place prior to 90 days. I think assemblies will be dissolved two days before their tenure. Had the field been left vacant in the assembly, it would have created too much difficulty.”

He also clarified that he had neither proposed the name of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for the slot of caretaker prime minister nor expressed a desire at any stage. 

He said Dar had never expressed such intentions at any forum. 

Talking about his statement that PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was not trustworthy, he said it was his personal opinion and that he was still cautious about him.

Meanwhile, sources in the PPP confirmed five names for caretaker PM have been shared with the party.

Earlier this week, rumour had it that Dar was a possible candidate for the post of interim prime minister. However, neither Dar nor any other PML-N leader had rejected the rumours. 

Rather, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that the finance minister could be appointed to the post. 

Later, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif denied Dar’s nomination and the PPP also opposed his appointment.

‘PM to consult JUI-F before finalising candidate’

Meanwhile, JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza Friday said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would make the final decision on picking the caretaker prime minister after consulting JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman in a day or two. 

The shortlisting of the candidates would be carried out by PM Shehbaz Sharif and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz Ahmad as per the Constitution since the same would be valid for the final decision, he said while talking to The News.

Senator Kamran, who had been the Supreme Court Bar Association President, said every member party of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had the right to put up its recommendations, but the final decision would be taken by the leadership of the alliance. 

Raja-Shehbaz meeting

Opposition Leader Raja Riaz Ahmad is visiting his hometown Faisalabad and is expected to meet with the prime minister on Wednesday.

Raja Riaz, who had earlier opposed FinMin Dar as caretaker prime minister, now supports the idea.

Sources say if Dar agrees to be the caretaker prime minister, he will quit the party offices and give up his seat in the Senate.

Consultations are underway on whether a caretaker could retain the membership of the upper House of Parliament or not.

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