ISLAMABAD: A day after it dropped strong hints about Ishaq Dar being the most suitable candidate for caretaker prime minister, the PML-N on Monday appears to be back-pedaling, apparently in the wake of outright rejection of the idea by both its ally PPP and the opposition PTI.

While a PPP minister described the report as ‘false’, the PTI chairman said Mr Dar as caretaker PM would be a ‘big joke’.

Talking to the media outside the Parliament House, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said the news regarding Mr Dar was “leaked” by a credible journalist, but there is no truth in it.

The defence minister also denied reports that the government is considering Mr Dar as interim PM, adding that work on this had not even started yet, and he is not aware of it.

PPP says reports it has agreed to proposal are ‘false news’; PTI says having Dar as caretaker premier will be ‘big joke’

Mr Asif said it will not be a good idea if a caretaker prime minister comes from the ruling party as people will object to it.

‘Neutral figure’

Earlier, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Environmental Coordination Sherry Rehman said rumours being floated that PPP has agreed to any name for caretaker PM are fake news.

“There have been no names officially received or endorsed by the party, leaving no room for confusion or controversy. The PPP has established a committee to thoroughly deliberate on the matter and engage in discussions with all stakeholders,” said Ms Rehman.

Flanked by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation & Social Safety Faisal Karim Kundi at the PPP secretariat, she stated that the party had always held the belief that caretaker PM could be a neutral figure, ensuring a fair and impartial electoral process, and “in all this process no names have been shared with us”.

She said there is a committee engaging with the process, but the leadership will take the final decision.

“The PPP aims to contribute to a smooth and unbiased transition of power, guaranteeing the integrity of the democratic process, and PPP reiterates its commitment to upholding the constitutional timeframe for the elections.

“We advocate for holding elections as scheduled, and we firmly believe in upholding the democratic principles that prioritise the sovereign right of the people to choose their elected prime minister,” Ms Rehman said.

She stressed that PPP is committed to engaging with and empowering the youth to actively participate in the democratic process.

“Regrettably, in the past, they were led astray by ‘save-Imran’ campaign that failed to prioritise their needs and aspirations. We are now witnessing a positive shift as the youth of Pakistan are gradually returning to the essence of politics — one that emphasises inclusion, democratic values, and the pursuit of a better life for all,” she added.

The minister touched on various projects of the PPP government in Sindh as well her ministry’s performance at the federal level, according to a statement.

PTI’s reservations

While speaking to reporters at the Supreme Court, Imran Khan expressed strong reservations over the suggestion to nominate Mr Dar as the caretaker prime minister.

He described the proposal as a “big joke” and asked, “How can we accept this proposal”.

Separately, PTI’s focal person on economy Muzamil Aslam said the government had made its intentions clear by nominating Mr Dar after “ruining” a well-performing economy.

In a statement, he said the government wanted to cling to power in any way to get desirable results in the forthcoming elections.

“Dar was mainly responsible for the country’s current economic situation, who created all possible obstacles so as the IMF programme could not succeed in order to impose financial emergency at the end to prolong their rule,” he claimed.

Mr Muzamil said the incumbent ruling group had been staging various “dramas” for the last 14 months because they were least bothered about the interests of the state.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2023

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