• Balochistan senator’s name ‘proposed by Raja Riaz’; coalition insider claims name ‘came from elsewhere’
• PPP leader’s reaction reveals how even allies were taken aback by BAP senator’s nomination

ISLAMABAD: After weeks of deliberations, Bal­o­chistan Awami Party (BAP) Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar was named the caretaker prime minister after Prime Minister She­h­baz Sharif and Opposi­tion Leader Raja Riaz reached a consensus over his “surprise” nomination.

Mr Kakar, who hails from Balochistan, will bec­ome the eighth caretaker prime minister. Pre­sident Dr Arif Alvi signed a summary sent to him by the outgoing prime minister regarding his appointment after the second round of talks with Raja Riaz.

The initial positive reactions over his surprise nomination demonstrated how Mr Kakar was acceptable to all political parties, especially those part of the ruling coalition headed by outgoing PM Shehbaz Sharif. In addition, the BAP is thought to have the backing of the country’s establishment.

A member of the outgoing ruling coalition told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that Mr Kakar was a “surprise” for many in the alliance; in fact, “even those who signed the summary of Kakar’s nomination too were unaware about Kakar’s name.”

“Mr Kakar’s name came from somewhere else and it had to be accepted by all stakeholders,” the politician said while responding to a question about the Sharifs’ failure to get their own man in the caretaker’s saddle.

A similar comment was made by PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah, who said no one was aware that Mr Kakar would become the interim PM. He said the PPP had proposed three names and they were better options. He said, “We should hope for the best irrespective of the fact where the name (of Kakar) came from.”

However, Raja Riaz told reporters, “I had given this name and the PM has consented to this name … the PM and I have signed the summary.” He claimed Mr Kakar would be sworn in tomorrow (Sunday).

However, a source in the Presidency told Dawn that the caretaker prime minister would take oath in a day or two.

Mr Riaz said it had been decided between him and Mr Sharif that they would not disclose other names that remained under consideration. Both sides had already expressed their “desire that the caretaker prime minister should be from a smaller province”. Soon after the signing of the summary by the president, Mr Kakar was provided with the security and protocol reserved for the prime ministers.

In the farewell reception hosted by the prime minister on Friday night, the coalition partners had given full authority to Mr Sharif to decide any name for the coveted slot. According to an official statement issued by the PMO, PM Sharif after signing the summary expressed gratitude to Raja Riaz for his cooperation in the consultative process and for his role being the leader of the opposition during the 16 months of the coalition government.

BAP Senator Abdul Qadir said his party had been making efforts for the past few days to get Mr Kakar nominated for the office of caretaker premier.

He said that Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani was lobbying for Mr Kakar and had met PM Sharif, opposition leader Raja Riaz, Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and other senior leaders of PML-N over the past few days.

The delay in nominating a caretaker prime minister was apparently because Raja Riaz, generally believed to be a “friendly opposition leader”, came out to be a different man, as he had been insisting on his candidate instead of agreeing to the names suggested by the PML-N.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2023

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