ISLAMABAD: The government and the opposition will announce the name of the caretaker prime minister on Tuesday. The caretaker prime minister will lead the interim set-up and attend to day-to-day matters of governance.

“We will finalise the name of the caretaker prime minister by Tuesday (May 22) and announce it later the same day,” said Syed Khursheed Shah.

The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly was speaking to reporters at the Parliament House after his meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday.

Discussions between Mr Abbasi and Mr Shah lasted only 15 minutes during which they decided to meet again next Tuesday to make a final decision.

“The prime minister is flying to Turkey today to attend the OIC summit and asked that we meet on Sunday,” said Mr Shah, adding that he instead suggested meeting on Tuesday.

The leader of the opposition was approached by reporters as he walked — accompanied by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq — out of the speaker’s chambers.

The speaker, who was on his way to mosque inside the Parliament House for the Friday prayers, quipped that “Shah sahib will announce the name of the caretaker prime minister in the sermon”.

The term of the present government is set to expire on May 31, after which the caretaker set-up will be put in place. The polls are expected to be held in July or August.

The opposition leader said the prime minister had assured him that he (the PM) would have no objection to whatever name he (Khursheed Shah) was going to suggest for the office of the caretaker prime minister.

Before their meeting on Friday, the prime minister and the leader of the opposition had met three times but had failed to agree on a suitable candidate.

If the prime minister and the opposition leader fail to reach a consensus on any candidate, they will have to make public three names each. The list of the six nominees will be referred to a parliamentary committee, which will be formed by the National Assembly speaker.

If the committee also fails to come to a decision, the matter will be referred to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The commission will then have the prerogative to choose any one of the six candidates nominated to be the caretaker prime minister.

Mr Abbasi and Mr Shah have already agreed not to disclose the names of their respective nominees until the last moment to avoid any “controversies.”

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had last month leaked the names of its candidates for the office of the caretaker prime minister and chief ministers in three provinces to the media. Its nominees for the caretaker prime minister were former chief justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, businessman Abdur Razzaq Dawood and economist Dr Ishrat Hussain.

Other probable candidates include Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi, former secretary of the ECP Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan and former Inspector General of Police Dr Shoaib Suddle.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2018