NA speaker seeks names for panel on caretaker PM

Published April 7, 2022
In this file photo, Speaker Asad Qaiser is pictured during a session of the National Assembly. — NA Twitter/File
In this file photo, Speaker Asad Qaiser is pictured during a session of the National Assembly. — NA Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser wrote letters to interim Prime Minister Imran Khan and former opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday, seeking names of members to form a parliamentary committee that will appoint the caretaker prime minister ahead of the next polls.

On the other hand, Mr Sharif has also informed President Arif Alvi through a letter that the opposition would not become a part of any process being evolved after the rejection of a no-trust resolution against Mr Khan.

Mr Sharif has also rejected Mr Khan’s nomination of former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed for the post of caretaker prime minister, describing the move as “a blatant attempt to subvert the provisions of the Constitution”.

It is expected that if the opposition does not present any name, the former CJP will be appointed as a caretaker prime minister ahead of the next general elections.

Imran Khan’s aide says former CJP Gulzar has agreed to perform as caretaker PM

In his letter, the National Assembly speaker asked Mr Khan and Mr Sharif to give names for forming an eight-member parliamentary committee under Article 224-A(1) of the Constitution for appointment of a caretaker premier.

The article reads: “In case the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the outgoing National Assembly do not agree on any person to be appointed as the caretaker prime minister, within three days of the dissolution of the National Assembly, they shall forward two nominees each to a committee to be immediately constituted by the speaker of the National Assembly, comprising eight members of the outgoing National Assembly, or the Senate, or both, having equal representation from the treasury and the opposition, to be nominated by the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, respectively.”

Shehbaz writes to Alvi

Meanwhile, Shehbaz Sharif in the letter to President Alvi stated that a ruling by the National Assembly deputy speaker to reject the opposition’s no-confidence resolution against Mr Khan was a blatant violation of the Constitution.

“The entire super-structure built thereon, including all consequential notifications relating to the dismissal of the resolution, advice of the prime minister regarding the dissolution of the National Assembly, and the continuation of the prime minister in office, are all illegal, without lawful authority and of no legal effect,” Mr Sharif said.

The opposition leader reminded that the Supreme Court took a suo motu notice of April 3 parliamentary proceedings under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and directed that “any order passed by the prime minister and the president shall be subject to the order of the apex court”.

He lamented that the process of appointing a caretaker prime minister was started by the president in a hurry. He said the process was not acceptable, as it was sub judice and violated the law and the Constitution.

“In the circumstances, the name of retired justice Gulzar Ahmed proposed by the interim prime minister for the office of caretaker prime minister was a blatant attempt to subvert the provisions of the Constitution and to pre-empt the decision of the Supreme Court and thus the name of Gulzar Ahmed was not agreed upon,” the opposition leader said.

‘Gulzar agrees to offer’

Political analysts believe that since the opposition has refused to become a part of the procedure, former chief justice Gulzar Ahmed has bright chances of becoming the caretaker prime minister for holding fresh general elections.

Interim Prime Minister Imran Khan nominated ex-CJP Gulzar on Monday for the office of the caretaker prime minister. Analysts say it now seems to be a one-sided contest unless the Supreme Court decides in the opposition’s favour, i.e. reverses the deputy speaker’s April 3 ruling to dismiss the no-confidence motion.

Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi, who has no role under the Constitution in appointing the caretaker prime minister, is actively participating in the procedure, as he wrote a letter to Mr Sharif earlier this week, informing him about Mr Khan’s nominee ex-CJP Gulzar and asking Mr Sharif to also send a name of his candidate for the slot.

Justice Gulzar retired two months ago on Feb 1, which has sparked another controversy on his nomination as caretaker prime minister under Article 207 of the Constitution, which says: “A person who has held office as a judge of the Supreme Court or of a high court shall not hold any office of profit in the service of Pakistan … before the expiration of two years after he has ceased to hold that office.”

A close aide of the interim prime minister told Dawn on condition of anonymity that the consent of justice Gulzar for the new office had already been sought and he had agreed to perform as a caretaker prime minister.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2022

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