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Raja asked to begin talks on caretaker govt

January 22, 2013

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. — File Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: The core committee of the ruling PPP asked Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday to begin consultations with all political parties for the selection of a caretaker set-up and finalisation of election dates at the national and provincial levels.

The committee, which met at the Prime Minister’s House, also reiterated the party’s stand that, come what may, no delay would be accepted in holding free and fair elections.

Talking to Dawn, Law Minister Farooq H. Naek, a key member of the committee, said the participants of the meeting were briefed about election laws and an agreement the coalition government had recently signed with Dr Tahirul Qadri as a result of his sit-in in Islamabad.

Mr Naek said the government was committed to holding free and fair elections and no pressure would be accepted from any quarter.

The meeting unanimously asked Prime Minister Ashraf to start contacting all political forces for holding trouble-free elections both at the federal and provincial levels, he said.

The meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Ashraf, was attended by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Senator Jahangir Badar, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Nazar Mohammad Gondal, Rana Farooq Saeed, Syed Naveed Qamar, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Farooq Naek, Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Moula Baksh Chandio, Syed Khursheed Shah, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Senator Raza Rabbani and Senator Farhatullah Babar.

It resolved that free and fair elections would be held in accordance with the Constitution and within the time limit stipulated in it and would not be delayed even for a day, a handout released after the meeting said.

The committee also felicitated the prime minister over his handling of the situation in Balochistan after Hazara community’s unprecedented protest, and the recent threats mounted by some elements to postpone the elections.

PML-N: Earlier in the day, the main opposition PML-N once again called upon the federal government to announce the election date.

Leader of the opposition in National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, told reporters outside the Parliament House that he had a hunch that attempts were being made to delay the elections.

He also refused to accept the agreement between the government and the Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran, led by Dr Qadri, for electoral reforms.

Chaudhry Nisar said that as the leader of opposition in the National Assembly, he had already approached all political parties in and outside parliament about selection of the caretaker prime minister.

After due consultations, the opposition would not only suggest a couple of names for caretaker prime minister, but also for caretaker chief ministers, he added. Chaudhry Nisar said the government would have to listen to the PML-N as it was the major opposition party in the National Assembly and the ruling party in Punjab, and not Dr Qadri, about dissolution of the assemblies.

If the government wanted to dissolve the national and provincial assemblies at the same time, “the PML-N holds key to that”, he said.

Talking to Dawn, Chaudhry Nisar said that if the government implemented Dr Qadri’s demand of holding the elections in 90 days, they would be postponed until June, which no party would prefer because of the severe hot weather.

NDU: Speaking to participants of the National Security and War Course at the National Defence University, Prime Minister Ashraf said: “Let me reaffirm that the government is committed to holding free, fair and transparent elections on time under the supervision of an independent Election Commission. We need to guard against all forces which are out to derail the system so assiduously put in place after a protracted struggle.”