Raja writes to Nisar, seeks names for caretaker PM
ISLAMABAD: Officially initiating the much-talked about consultation process of selecting a caretaker premier, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf wrote on Wednesday a letter to Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, seeking two names for the job to hold free and fair elections.
In the letter released by the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Mr Ashraf also categorically stated that the National Assembly would be dissolved only after completing its five-year constitutional term on March 16.
The prime minister said: “I would request you (Chaudhry Nisar) as leader of the opposition to propose the names of persons who in your opinion are eminently qualified to be appointed as caretaker prime minister of Pakistan.
“I would be grateful if you could forward your nominations at the earliest so that we may arrive at a consensus on the caretaker prime minister prior to the dissolution of the National Assembly on the expiry of its term. Otherwise we will be constrained to proceed further in the matter as per Article 224 (A) of the Constitution.”
In the opening paragraph, Prime Minister Ashraf has waxed lyrical on the political class for completing its five-year term.
He said: “As you know, the National Assembly will be achieving the milestone of completing its tenure by the middle of next month. It will be a historic achievement signifying the maturity and sagacity of the political parties in the country.
“This singular achievement will go a long way in strengthening democracy and establishing supremacy of the will of the people of Pakistan.
“All political parties within and outside the parliament and national institutions deserve special compliment and praise for their continued support to the democratic process during the last five years. The country is now poised for general elections with the likely dissolution of the National Assembly on the expiry of its term.”
Referring to the constitutional requirement under which the prime minister, as leader of the house, is supposed to consult the leader of the opposition, Raja Pervez Ashraf said: “It is imperative that we initiate the process under Article 224 of the Constitution to arrive at a consensus on the appointment of caretaker prime minister who could uphold the national interest and ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country.
“The people of Pakistan rightly expect us to rise to the occasion and agree upon the most suitable person as caretaker prime minister and pave the way for holding general elections in an impartial, fair and transparent manner. Let us enable the people of Pakistan to express their will in an exemplary environment and ensure smooth transition of power to the next elected government.”
Under Article 224 of the Constitution, if the leader of the house and that of the opposition do not agree on any name for the post of caretaker prime minister within three days after dissolution of the National Assembly, each of them will forward two names to a bipartisan parliamentary committee to be immediately constituted by the National Assembly speaker to decide on a name within three days.
If the committee, which will comprise four members each from treasury and opposition benches, also fails to do so, the names will be referred to the Chief Election Commissioner for a final decision within two days.
A similar procedure is to be followed in the provinces.
Chaudhry Nisar has said there is no constitutional requirement to enter into direct negotiation with the prime minister for the selection of caretaker prime minister. “As mentioned in the Constitution, I will recommend two names and leave it to the government to pick one. Otherwise the CEC will decide who should be the next caretaker prime minister,” he said.