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Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. — File Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Thursday that he would soon consult the leader of opposition in the National Assembly for the selection of the caretaker prime minister.

During a meeting with Law Minister Farooq H. Naek who called on him at Prime Minister’s House, he said the appointment of the caretaker prime minis-ter would be made in accordance with the Constitution.

According to a handout, the prime minister said his government was fully committed to “holding free and fair election” since democracy was the only way forward.

Mr Naek and the prime minister discussed various issues, including appointment of the caretaker prime minister, the coming general election and the Supreme Court’s decision on Dr Tahirul Qadri’s petition.

Despite opposition parties’ repeated demands for an immediate announcement of the dates when the caretaker set-up will take over and election is held, the prime minister did not give any timeframe.

He said: “Democracy cannot flourish without free and fair elections. It is our responsibility and commitment to ensure that elections are held transparently and the people of Pakistan choose their representatives in a free environment.”

According to the opposition, the National Assembly will die its natural death on March 16, just 29 days from now, after which the Constitution will take its due course, so the statement by the prime minister without any dates is meaningless.

But the government argues that since the Constitution is quite lucid on the roadmap towards installing caretaker set-ups at the federal and provincial levels, the opposition’s criticism is unfounded.

Talking to Dawn, a senior minister said the coalition partners had not discussed any name so far for the caretaker prime minister.

“We need to settle these issues among ourselves before announcing the dates.”

Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had said earlier that there was no need for formal consultation with the prime minister regarding the caretaker set-up and he would recommend a couple of names as required under the Constitution for the job, leaving it to the government to pick one.

Otherwise, the issue would be referred to the Election Commission in accordance with Article 224(A), he said.

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