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President Asif Ali Zardari.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The second round of talks between parties in the ruling coalition to decide the name of a joint candidate for the post of caretaker prime minister will take place after the return of President Asif Ali Zardari from the United Kingdom.

“Talks with coalition partners will be held after the President’s return from Britain to finalise the name of candidate for the caretaker prime minister under the criteria set by allied parties at a meeting held in the Presidency on Jan 29,” Law Minister Farooq Naek told Dawn on Monday.

Elaborating on the criteria, he said it had been decided in the meeting that an “impartial and apolitical” person should be made the caretaker prime minister.

Under the Constitution, the caretaker prime minister should be appointed by the President in consultation with the prime minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing National Assembly and in case of disagreement, within three days of the dissolution of the National Assembly, the prime minister and the leader of opposition shall forward two nominees each to a committee to be constituted by the National Assembly Speaker.

The committee would comprise eight members of the outgoing assembly or Senate or both having an equal representation from the treasury and opposition, he said.

The President’s spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, said the criteria about the caretaker prime minister had been finalised in the last meeting of coalition partners.

“The coalition partners decided that the candidate for the office of caretaker prime minister should be neutral by all means,” he said.

It was expected that allied parties would decide the name of their joint candidate for the post in the next meeting, Mr Babar added.

“The coalition parties were asked to propose names of their own candidates in the last meeting, but Pakistan Muslim League-Q and Muttahidda Qaumi Movement leaders were of the view that the name of the joint candidate should be finalised in the next meeting and only the criteria for the candidates should be decided in the last meeting,” the spokesman said.

He said coalition parties were at present busy in preparing lists of their candidates and were likely to present it after the return of President Asif Ali Zardari from abroad.

The president is expected to return from UK this week.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Pervez Rashid said his party wanted the caretaker prime minister to be "apolitical and non-partisan."