Parliamentary committee fails to reach consensus on appointment of Punjab caretaker CM

Published January 20, 2023
Former Punjab law minister Raja Basharat speaks to the media in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
Former Punjab law minister Raja Basharat speaks to the media in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

The parliamentary committee constituted to appoint the Punjab caretaker chief minister failed to reach a consensus on Friday, leaving the matter to be decided by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The ruling alliance had initially proposed former Punjab chief secretary Nasir Mahmood Khosa, serving bureaucrat Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera and Naseer Khan, who is reportedly a relative of outgoing Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

However, the notification issued on Thursday for the summoning of today’s meeting reduced the nominations from three to two, with the second one a new entry; Sukhera and Naveed Akram Cheema, a former chief secretary.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz had nominated Ahad Cheema, a former bureaucrat and Special Assistant to the prime minister, and Mohsin Naqvi, owner of a media house.

Former minister Raja Basharat, Mian Aslam Iqbal and Hashim Jawan Bakht represented the ruling PTI-PML-Q alliance during today’s meeting, while the opposition was represented by PM’s special assistant Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, PPP’s parliamentary leader Syed Hassan Murtaza and Malik Nadeem Kamran.

Talking to the media in Islamabad after the meeting, Basharat said the names submitted on behalf of the PTI for the caretaker chief minister were better than the opposition’s picks from “every angle”.

“Make a decision which is acceptable to the public,” he told the opposition, claiming that they were “stuck on two names.”

Basharat added that it was decided to send the names of all the nominees to the ECP so that the matter could be decided.

“The election commission should compare all the nominees and pick the best person for the role,” he said. He said that the PTI-PML-Q alliance would use all available options and approach the court if a “controversial person” was chosen.

Meanwhile, Iqbal said that a person with “administrative knowledge and good character” should be appointed for the role. “Experienced people must be brought forward,” he added.

For its part, the opposition expressed its dismay over the failure to reach a consensus on the matter.

Kamran said that the candidates proposed by the PTI-PML-Q alliance were not “eligible otherwise a debate could still have been held”.

He criticised Elahi for saying he would approach the Supreme Court if the matter went to the electoral watchdog, saying that it showed a “lack of confidence in the committee”.

Khan demanded the PTI-PML-Q alliance name a “more professional person” than Cheema. He added that the ruling coalition had objected to Cheema due to an ongoing corruption case against him.

He also advocated for Naqvi’s appointment, saying he was a “non-partisan person” and a “media tsar who has worked with CNN”.

Murtaza expressed regret that the two sides could not reach an agreement on the matter.

“Today we are not in a position to decide and can’t achieve consensus of opinion on anything and the reason for that is members are sent with a dictation that ‘you don’t have to accept anything,’” he said.

PA speaker urges governor to fix date for Punjab elections

Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan sent a letter to Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman urging him to fix a date for holding elections in the province.

The letter said the assembly stood dissolved on Jan 14 and the governor was required to appoint a date no later than 90 days from the dissolution for the elections.

“You have not done the needful despite the lapse of seven days from the date of the dissolution of the assembly,” the letter said.

“To fulfil this constitutional obligation, you are hereby requested to perform your constitutional duty and immediately appoint a date for the general election to the provincial assembly of Punjab,” it added.

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