LAHORE: While the name of former bureaucrat Nasir Mahmood Khosa proposed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led opposition was agreed upon by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for the caretaker chief minister of the province on Monday, PTI chairman Imran Khan in a surprise move rejected the previously decided Manzoor Afridi’s nomination for the caretaker CM of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Talks between the government and the opposition continued in Sindh where some names have come up for the office of caretaker CM. However, in Balochistan the matter is likely to be referred to a committee after the two sides failed to reach a consensus on any name.
The name of Nasir Mahmood Khosa, former federal finance secretary who has also served as the chief secretary of Punjab and Balochistan, was proposed by the PTI and finalised by CM Sharif and Leader of the Opposition Mahmoodur Rasheed in a meeting at the PML-N’s Model Town office.
Another name given by the PTI was that of Gohar Ejaz, the group leader of the All-Pakistan Textiles Mills Association. The PML-N government had floated the names of retired Justice Sair Ali and former IGP Tariq Saleem Dogar.
Following the meeting, Mr Sharif and Mr Rasheed told the media that different names were discussed in the May 25 meeting and eventually they reached a consensus on the nomination of Nasir Khosa for the office of caretaker chief minister. “This democratic harmony is the beauty of democratic system,” said CM Sharif who is also PML-N president.
PML-N, PTI agree on the name of Nasir Mahmood Khosa; Imran rejects Afridi’s nomination as designated caretaker CM of KP amid controversy
He expressed the hope that Mr Khosa would come up to the expectations of people and utilise his diverse experience and professional abilities for holding transparent elections so that political parties get a level-playing field. He also expressed the hope that people would be free to vote for the party of their choice for the continuation and strengthening of democratic process in the country.
Mr Rasheed also said the PTI believed Mr Khosa would utilise his immense experience and credibility to hold the next general elections in a fair and transparent manner. He expressed the hope that the designated caretaker CM would come up to the expectation of both parties.
According to sources, Mr Khosa has served as chief secretary of Punjab from 2010 to 2013 under the command of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Mr Khosa belongs to Dera Ghazi Khan. He is a brother of former IG police Tariq Masood Khosa and Supreme Court Judge Asif Saeed Khosa.
Controversy in KP
While Mr Khosa had the blessing of PTI chief Imran Khan, the young designated caretaker CM of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Manzoor Afridi was not as fortunate, since Mr Khan rejected his candidature only hours before the deadline ended for the formal announcement of the consensus caretaker CM.
Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, spokesman for the KP chief minister, said PTI chairman Imran Khan rejected Manzoor Afridi’s name for the office of caretaker chief minister after opposition lawmakers alleged that Mr Afridi’s nomination had come through a deal between CM Pervez Khattak and Leader of the Opposition in KP Assembly Maulana Lutfur Rehman.
He admitted that impasse persisted between the two sides over the installation of caretaker chief minister, as the opposition leader had refused to withdraw the nomination after the rejection of his name by the PTI chief. “Yes, there is a deadlock and the issue may be referred to the parliamentary committee if the two sides did not reach an agreement over the selection of caretaker CM by 12midnight,” he said.
“Frankly speaking, the chief minister did not propose any name for the office of caretaker chief minister and agreed with the name proposed by the opposition leader, who nominated Manzoor Afridi without taking parliamentary leaders on board,” said Mr Yousafzai.
He said that a meeting would take place in the late hours of Monday to settle the issue but if opposition leader did not agree, the matter would be referred to the parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Leader of the Opposition Lutfur Rehman was not available for comments.
Manzoor Afridi, a young entrepreneur who is little known in politics, was poised to be installed as caretaker chief minister after the PTI and JUI-F reached an agreement two days ago.
However, his nomination drew a lot of criticism on the social media after his picture with PTI chairman Imran Khan at Banigala went viral. In the photo, Mr Khattak and PTI Senator Ayub Afridi, who happens to be Manzoor’s brother, were also present.
On Sunday, the opposition lawmakers alleged that the chief minister and the opposition leader had struck a deal to bring their choice of caretaker chief minister without taking other parliamentary parties in confidence about the nomination.
Consultation under way in Sindh
In an official meeting held at the Sindh Assembly building, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Leader of the Opposition Khwaja Izhar-ul-Hassan on Monday afternoon exchanged the names officially proposed from either side for the office of caretaker chief minister.
The two sides did not disclose the names to the media after the meeting that last 20 minutes. The chief minister said he would consult the PPP high command while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker said he would take other opposition parties on board before going for another round of talks.
So far three names proposed from each side have been circulating in the media. The names reportedly proposed by the government are those of former chief secretary Ghulam Ali Pasha, Dr Qayyum Soomro and Engineer Hamir Soomro, while leader of the opposition had nominated ex-chief secretary Fazal-ur-Rahman, former senator Javed Jabbar and former Sindh government adviser on home affairs Aftab Shaikh. The names of retired justice Ghaus Ali Shah from the PML-F and retired justice Amir Hani Muslim from the PTI are also in circulation for the office of the caretaker CM.
No consensus in Balochistan
As the government and the opposition in three rounds of talks failed to reach consensus on any of the five names proposed by the two sides for the caretaker CM, the matter is likely to be referred to a parliamentary committee.
The government had proposed the names of Prince Ahmed Ali Ahmedzai, Alaudin Marri and Kamran Murtaza, while the opposition leader had suggested the names of former speaker of the Balochistan Assembly Aslam Bhootani and former ambassador Ashraf Jahangir Qazi.
Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Leader of Opposition in the Balochistan Assembly Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal failed to reach a consensus on the name of caretaker chief minister. Sources said the two leaders even failed to shortlist the names, indicating serious differences between them over the names.
Zulfiqar Ali from Peshawar, Habib Khan Ghori from Karachi and Saleem Shahid from Quetta also contributed to this report.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2018