Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday confirmed that he would write to President Dr Arif Alvi tomorrow (August 9) to dissolve the National Assembly, which would bring the incumbent government’s term to a marginally premature end.
The government has announced that assemblies will be dissolved three days ahead of its mandated period, following which elections are to be held within 90 days.
Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad, PM Shehbaz said: “After completing our [government’s] term tomorrow, I will write and send [the advice] to the president to dissolve the assembly and then an interim government will take over.”
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz earlier today said that he had not yet met or consulted the premier regarding the names for the caretaker prime minister.
“I hope to have a meeting tomorrow in which these things will be discussed,” he said, adding that the consultation would happen at “the right time”.
However, Riaz said he had completed the consultation process with his allies, adding that the three names for the interim prime minister were “almost 90 per cent finalised”.
Later, Riaz said during ARY News show ‘Off The Record’ that the names for the caretaker PM candidates were finalised after he held three meetings with lawmakers from the opposition.
“They do not include any politicians but an economist has been shortlisted,” he said about the interim PM nominees. But, he added, former finance minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh was not among the candidates that had made it to the opposition’s final list.
Riaz added he could even consider a politician for the slot if suggested by the government.
On delay in elections, Riaz said polls should ideally be held within three months but the approval of the new census had complicated matters.
“I think the election will be delayed by six months,” he said.
With only one day left to go before the dissolution of the incumbent National Assembly, the ruling coalition seems to have evolved a consensus on the name for the caretaker prime minister’s slot, but it is keeping their identity a secret, ostensibly to save the nominee from controversy.
The prime minister and the opposition leader can consult on the matter for three days, even after the dissolution of the assembly. In case a consensus is not reached, then the matter is referred to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Sources claimed that a decision on the caretaker has been “finalised”. However, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, during an appearance on a TV channel, claimed that no name was finalised so far.
He claimed a politician, who was not associated with any political party, could also become the caretaker PM.
Separately, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said during a TV appearance that the PPP had not shared any names with the premier so far. However, insiders say that the PPP has shared three names for the coveted post with the prime minister.
Amid reports that Dr Hafeez Sheikh could become the caretaker prime minister, Sanaullah said Sheikh’s name was not agreed upon.
As speculations grow, the former finance minister is said to be the strongest contender. Sheikh is one of the technocrats who is believed to be acceptable to all mainstream political parties and his name is always considered whenever an interim government is installed in the country.
He was first brought into government by military dictator Pervez Musharraf as privatisation minister, then served as finance minister in the PPP (2012-13) and PTI governments (2020-21) too. He was also a member of the Senate from 2003 to 2006, 2006-2012, and then again from 2012 and 2018.