PM Shehbaz consults with coalition partners over caretaker setup

Published July 18, 2023
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif exchanges views with Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti, on Monday.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif exchanges views with Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti, on Monday.—PPI

• Premier to discuss issue with opposition leader after coalition deliberations
• Islamabad and Colombo keen to boost bilateral ties, Shehbaz tells Sri Lankan president

ISLAMABAD: A day after hinting at holding the next general elections in Nov this year, Prime Min­ister Shehbaz Sharif has started consultation for ca­­r­­­etaker setup with his allies.

In one such meeting, PM Sharif met chief of Jam­h­oori Watan Party (JWP) and Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Shah­zain Bugti on Monday.

Earlier on Sunday, the prime minister had also met Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chief Asif Ali Zar­dari in Lahore. While some names of bigwigs are circulating in the social media as potential candidates for the seat of caretaker prime minister, nothing has been officially ann­ounced in this regard so far.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the prime minister and Mr Bugti discussed the current political situation in the country at length, as well as matters related to the relevant ministry.

“[The] PM has started consultations with coalition partners on appointing interim setup,” Special Assistant to the PM Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Monday.

He said the prime minister would consult Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz, a PTI dissident, after deliberations with coalition partners.

Speaking to Geo News, Mr Kaira asserted that a po­litician should be appoi­n­ted as the caretaker pri­me minister of the country instead of any other person.

A couple of days ago, PM Shehbaz had announced that the government would hand over the reins to the interim rulers next month before the completion of the assembly’s tenure, which means that caretakers will have three months for holding elections in the country.

“Only a politician should be considered for the post of caretaker prime minister, and no general, bureaucrat, technocrat, journalist, or any corporate sector employee should be appointed for the slot,” Mr Kaira added.

“If a post of any judge of the Supreme Court falls vacant, can I be appointed on it,” he said.

It is expected that the PM will meet heads of other parties in the ruling coalition in the next couple of days.

If the government is dissolved before August 12 (expiry of the National Assembly), then elections will be held within 90 days, and if the assembly completes its tenure, the ECP is bound to hold polls within 60 days.

Sri Lankan president

Later, PM Sharif telep­h­oned Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and both leaders agreed to continue the long-standing cooperation in areas of mu­­tual interest, further stren­gthening the bilateral ties between the two countries.

According to the PM office, the prime minister emphasised the need to work together to fight poverty, promote economic growth and development for the benefit of the entire region, the PM Office’s media wing said in a press release.

He also expressed his desire to promote peace and enhance connectivity through regional cooperation.

Separately, on his Twitter handle, the prime minister said the bilateral ties between Pakis­tan and Sri Lanka were underpinned by reservoirs of goodwill and good neighbourliness between the two countries.

“I had the pleasure of speaking to H.E. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Presi­dent of Sri Lanka, earlier today to thank him for his support to Pakistan during my meeting with MD IMF,” he added.

Over the decades, the prime minister further said that Pakistan and Sri Lan­ka have been close allies and friends, standing by each other through thick and thin.Later, PM Sheh­baz met Water and Power Develop­ment Au­­tho­rity Chairman retired Lt-Gen Sajjad Ghani and discussed overall projects of the authority and demand and supply of the electricity in the country specially in the current summer.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2023

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