LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is in a quandary as it has repeatedly failed to finalise its candidate for the important position of chief minister of Punjab.

After withdrawing the name of former bureaucrat Nasir Mahmood Khosa, whose nomination had earlier been agreed upon by the PTI and PML-N, Imran Khan’s party on Thursday floated the names of political and military analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi and former inspector general of police Nasir Durrani.

“The PTI has suggested the names of renowned writer and analyst Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi and Nasir Durrani as caretaker chief minister of Punjab,” tweeted the party’s central information secretary, Fawad Chaudhry.

But later in the day Mr Durrani, who is serving as a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission after his retirement, said he could not accept the offer owing to health issues.

Mr Durrani’s decision has again put the PTI in a “consultation mode”.

“The PTI will float two names before the speaker of Punjab Assembly on Friday [today] and try to mitigate the bitterness and misunderstanding created by the withdrawal of Mr Khosa’s candidature as caretaker chief minister,” said Leader of the Opposition in the house Mian Mahmood-ur-Rasheed while talking to Dawn.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday conveyed a message to the opposition leader, asking him to hold initial meetings on the matter with the speaker of the assembly, Rana Muhammad Iqbal, and provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. However, Mr Rasheed declined to meet the two PML-N leaders and said he would discuss the issue only with Mr Sharif, as prescribed by the Constitution.

Mr Rasheed said he and the chief minister still had three days to finalise the name of a suitable candidate for the key post.

In response to a question, the opposition leader said it would be an unconstitutional move if the PML-N government sent to the governor a summary about Mr Khosa’s appointment as chief minister, without his signature.

Mr Khosa has already announced his decision to decline the offer, citing the PTI’s sudden “change of heart” and withdrawing support for his nomination. “The PTI has turned me into a controversial figure in the media,” he regretted.

Mr Rasheed said the PTI would knock on “the doors of the judiciary” and approach the Election Commission of Pakistan, if the PML-N tried to force the appointment of Mr Khosa as interim chief minister.

Referring to a statement by Mr Sanaullah, he said: “Rana Sanaullah is the law minister but he doesn’t know anything about the law.” The PML-N would have to come to the negotiating table to settle the matter, he added.

Mr Sanaullah had said a second round of discussion on the issue would be futile. “The PTI is showing a non-serious attitude and the matter is likely to be referred to a parliamentary committee,” he had said.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2018

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