Interim govt not before March: Kaira
LAHORE: Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has ruled out formation of a caretaker set-up this year, saying the PPP government’s term will end on March 18 next year and the interim government will be installed afterwards to hold general elections within 60 days.
“Formation of interim government in November or December this year is not possible,” he said while talking to reporters at the residence of the Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly, Raja Riaz, here on Tuesday.
Mr Kaira’s statement makes the PPP’s intentions clear that it is not going to advance for even a couple of months the date of installation of the caretaker set-up to oblige the PML-N and other parties and go for polls before the completion of the term of the government.
The information minister also ruled out talks with the opposition about the interim set-up at this stage. “It is too early to hold talks with the opposition on the issue because about six months are left.”
He was not impressed by PML-N’s efforts to evolve consensus with other parties on an interim prime minister. “Even one of the leaders (Attaullah Mengal) the PML-N had proposed as caretaker prime minister laughed at its non-seriousness in short-listing the names,” he said.
Mr Kaira rejected a perception that the government had struck a deal with the judiciary over writing a letter to the Swiss authorities about reopening graft cases against President Asif Zardari. “It is not appropriate to say that there is any deal with the judiciary over the letter. The situation was different when Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was the prime minister and the Supreme Court has now given the government a middle way.”
He said PPP’s opponents were creating an impression that the PPP had changed its stance and got rid of Mr Gilani.
“We have not changed our stance and Mr Gilani knows about the new situation. There is no question about the victory or defeat of the government or the judiciary on the letter issue.”
Mr Kaira, who is also the information secretary of the PPP, brushed aside a couple of defections of the party’s leaders from Gujrat — former MNA Nawabzada Mazhar Ali Khan and former MPA Muzaffar Ali Khan — to the PML-N. “Yes, the loss of a single worker matters to the PPP but such people lose their identity after leaving the sea (PPP).”
Mr Kaira did not agree to a PML-N claim that once the interim set-up was installed there would be ‘large scale’ defections from the PPP. “Only time will tell about this hypothetical claim. However, I congratulate the PML-N for taking Gen Pervez Musharraf’s crony Chaudhry Ahmed Saeed into its fold.”
He said the PPP stalwarts in the area, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar and Ghazanfar Gul, were going nowhere. “They are diehard workers of the PPP.”
Mr Kaira lashed out at PML-N leaders for fanning provincialism over the issue of new provinces. “The Punjab Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution for creating south Punjab and Bahawalpur provinces but now the PML-N is running away from its commitment. It is talking of creating new provincial units in other provinces as well. But let me tell them that new provinces are made on the demand of the people,” he said.
Replying to a question about MQM’s threat to leave the government because its demands have not been met, the minister said: “The MQM is our ally and we will address its grievances.”