Dar all but confirms that Election Act set to be amended to empower caretaker govt

Published July 23, 2023
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar speaks in an interview on Dawn News show ‘Live with Adil Shahzeb’. — DawnNewsTV
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar speaks in an interview on Dawn News show ‘Live with Adil Shahzeb’. — DawnNewsTV

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has all but confirmed that the Election Act 2017 is set to be amended in order to empower the upcoming caretaker government to take important decisions rather than just run day-to-day operations until a democratically elected government takes over.

In an appearance on Dawn News show Live with Adil Shahzeb, Dar was questioned whether the Section 230 of the Election Act — which relates to the functions of a caretaker government — was about to be amended.

“To the best of my understanding, yes,” he replied.

“I don’t think this is something to hide from the nation. They will find out and it should [indeed] be amended,” Dar said, adding that the nation’s time should not be wasted by having the caretaker government be bogged down solely in “day-to-day” tasks.

He said it would be “inappropriate” for the caretaker prime minister to be concerned only with routine tasks.

Questioned if the caretaker prime minister would have more power to take important decisions after the amendment, Dar said: “He should be [in that position to take major actions].”

Asked if he was in the running for the position of the caretaker prime minister, Dar said it would be “premature” to comment on it, adding that he did not believe in pursuing or desiring any office.

He said whoever was chosen as the caretaker prime minister, would continue to have his support as a senator and leader of the house in the Senate.

Dar’s full interview with Shahzeb will air on Monday at 10pm.

Meanwhile, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, when he was questioned about Dar’s name for the slot on Geo News show Naya Pakistan said Dar, or anyone, could be the caretaker prime minister provided the government and opposition agreed.

He said it would be premature to comment further on the matter, stressing again that consensus of the coalition parties in the government and the opposition was required on the candidate.

Separately, PPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar said “highly disturbing reports about caretaker selection are doing rounds on social media.

“If true, it may result in postponing elections and pave way for long-term technocrat set-up.”

He added that “mere expressions of pious hopes” were not enough for the situation.

The tenure of the National Assembly is set to expire on August 12 and meetings are under way between the members of the government on the details of the interim set-up.

On Friday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had formed a five-member committee to hold talks with allied parties on the caretaker set-up.

While the names of some bigwigs are circulating on social media as potential candidates for the seat of caretaker prime minister, nothing has been officially announced in this regard so far.

After deliberations with coalition partners, the prime minister will consult the opposition leader in the National Assembly and PTI dissident Raja Riaz.

Last week, PM Shehbaz had announced that his government would hand over the reins to the interim rulers in August even before the end of the assembly’s tenure, which means that caretakers will have three months for holding elections in the country.

If the government is dissolved before the National Assembly completes its term on August 12, elections would be held within the next 90 days. If the assembly completes its tenure, the Election Commission of Pakistan is bound to hold polls within the next 60 days.

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