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Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, a PML-N member and leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the PML-N leader, claimed on Monday that he had managed to bring about an “almost complete consensus” of all opposition parties inside and outside parliament on the names of two retired judges to head the caretaker government in the run-up to general elections.

“The consultation process has almost been completed with all the opposition parties on the names of those suggested by me to head the caretaker government and we are about to reach a consensus on the names of two retired judges,” the PML-N leader told reporters outside the Parliament House.

Chaudhry Nisar did not name the two retired judges, but his apparent reference was to Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid and Justice (retd) Shakirullah Jan, whose names were on the list of seven persons suggested by him to other opposition parties in September as his party’s nominees for the caretaker prime minister.

He said the PML-N would come out with a final name after holding a consultative meeting of the leadership.

According to sources in the PML-N and in the other parties, besides the two retired judges, Chaudhry Nisar had suggested the names of 83-year-old Baloch nationalist Ataullah Mengal, former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir, Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, former JI chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed and former chairman of Awami Tehrik Rasool Bakhsh Palejo to head the future caretaker government.

Later, Mr Mengal and Mr Achakzai informed the PML-N leadership that they were not interested in assuming office of the caretaker prime minister, reducing the list to just five.

Chaudhry Nisar had said on Aug 28 that the PML-N had short-listed nine names to head a caretaker government, but added the list would be released only after consultations with other opposition parties, including Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf and nationalist parties.

The PML-N leader had hinted that none of the short-listed persons belonged to Punjab and that the list did not include the name of any retired bureaucrat or a retired military man. Rather, he said, it comprised retired judges, senior lawyers and politicians having good repute.

The 20th Constitution Amendment provides for the appointment of a caretaker prime minister by the president in consultation with the prime minister and the leader of opposition in the outgoing National Assembly. In case the outgoing prime minister and the leader of the opposition do not agree on any name within three days of the dissolution of the National Assembly, they will forward two names each to a parliamentary committee to be immediately constituted by the National Assembly speaker.

The committee will need to decide on a name within three days.

If the committee is also unable to decide on a name, these names will be referred to the Election Commission, which will make the final decision within two days. A similar procedure is to be followed in the provinces in case of disagreement between the outgoing chief minister and the leader of the opposition.

Chaudhry Nisar had also disclosed that the PTI had rejected all nominations and had sent two new names. The claim was later rejected by the PTI.

In response to the PTI’s denial that the party was consulted on the issue, the PML-N leader claimed the PTI had not only rejected all the proposed names but suggested the names of Federal Tax Ombudsman Shoaib Suddle and industrialist Abdul Razak Dawood as probable candidates for the caretaker prime minister.