ISLAMABAD: A row has erupted between two main opposition parties — Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) — over the issue of nominees for the office of caretaker prime minister after the PTI unofficially announced the names of its three nominees on Monday.
The three names — former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani, businessman Abdur Razzaq Dawood and economist Dr Ishrat Hussain — are now believed to be out of the mandatory consultation between the leader of the opposition and the prime minister for the office of caretaker prime minister.
Under the Constitution, when the government completes its five-year term, the caretaker prime minister is made with mutual understanding between the leader of the opposition and the prime minister for a period of two months for holding general elections.
Talking to reporters on Tuesday, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party said he would not make any further consultation with the PTI on the issue, as the latter had declared the names through the media despite the fact that talks between him and PTI leaders were still under way.
However, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday distanced his party from making the names public claiming that the PTI had not officially announced any name of probables for the office of caretaker prime minister. He said it was the media that published the names as PTI nominees.
The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly said he was shocked to see their names in the newspapers while the party had not informed him about its nominees as consultation between him and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi had been under way. “Now there is no need to sit with PTI as the decision regarding caretaker prime minister will be made by me and Prime Minister Abbasi as per the Constitution,” said Mr Shah clearly indicating that the PTI nominees would not be considered for the slot.
The opposition leader said he wanted to take on board all parties and his doors were open for negotiations with all including ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Answering a question regarding a time frame of appointment of caretaker prime minister, he said he had urged the government to finalise the name of caretaker prime minister by May 15.
Responding to another question, Mr Shah said there should be no bar on freedom of expression, otherwise there would be no difference between democracy and dictatorship. “However, freedom of expression should not be used against the state as the law also does not permit so,” he added.
Meanwhile, the PTI came on the back foot on Tuesday as its spokesman claimed that his party had not officially announced the names of nominees rather they were “exposed” by the media.
“The stance taken by Khursheed Shah is illogical that he would not consider the names of PTI nominees during consultation with the prime minister. The post of the leader of the opposition is a prestigious one which does not afford a childish approach,” said Mr Chaudhry.
He said the remarks of the leader of the opposition only on the basis of a news story were “unreasonable”.
Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2018