ISLAMABAD: Two of the seven noted figures named by leader of opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as caretaker prime minister have brusquely declined to accept the top office while his third recommendation has been bluntly snubbed by a high-flying political party.
After these refusals and rejections, only four recommended names are left for consideration by a wide range of opposition parties to pick up one of them as the interim premier.In the field are now two former superior court judges, a leader of the lawyers’ community and a political personality. Their names have not been disclosed by the opposition leader.
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) has serious reservations about prominent human rights activist and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Asma Jahangir, whose name was proposed by the opposition leader. She has not yet commented on her choice by him.
PTI Information Secretary Shafqat Mehmood says although Asma Jahangir is a respected figure, her attack on his party has been misplaced and unnecessary. Mehmood Khan Achakzai, whose name is included in the list, has also declined to become caretaker prime minister. He has conveyed his refusal to the top Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership with which he has excellent relations since long.
He wants to contest the forthcoming parliamentary polls from his native constituency of Balochistan. The interim prime minister, chief ministers, their cabinet members and the dependents of all of them are constitutionally barred from fighting elections that they would supervise as caretakers. Eminent Baloch politician Sardar AttaullahMengal, whose name was incorporated in Chaudhry Nisar’s list, has also rejected the proposal. “It is no less than a cruel joke on me to recommend me as interim prime minister at a time when so much violence is going on in Balochistan. I have no courage to face families of people killed daily in the incidents of terrorism and military operations. The operation launched in Balochistan in 2005 has left hundreds dead,” he has been quoted as saying while declining the recommendation.
In 2008, the elderly Mengal had declined the PML-N proposal to become its presidential candidate against President Asif Ali Zardari.A PML-N leader said that the objective behind proposing the names of Mengal and Achakzai for top slots was to involve them in the political mainstream and give them a sense of participation in the national affairs and decision-making level.
He said that it was well-known that the PML-N has tried to have good relations with noted Baloch leaders, who are estranged with the federal government since long. He said that their anger and ire, which escalated after the assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006, was justified and called for. There is a dire need for a healing touch in Balochistan.
The PML-N leader said that his party’s initiatives were sending a positive signal to those Baloch young stalwarts, who were talking against the Federation of Pakistan while sitting abroad.While the opposition leader has made it public that he was discussing the short-listed names with major and small political parties including the Jamaat-e-Islami, PPP-Sherpao, Mir Hasil Bizenjo’s National Party, PML-Like-minded and Sindhi and Baloch nationalists, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is yet to propose his choices as the caretaker prime minister.
However, he also plans to consult with political parties about the names he would recommend so as to evolve a consensus.The opposition leader is yet to consult with Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat-e-Ulemae Islam. He says although he is constitutionally not bound to talk to other opposition parties on proposing the next interim prime minister, he has decided to consult with all political forces and groups inside and outside parliament.
The process of consultation with the prime minister would be initiated after the dissolution of the National Assembly, he says and points out that if he and Pervaiz Ashraf fail to reach consensus on any name, the matter will be referred to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as per the 20th Amendment for the final decision.
As the government has no plan to dissolve the National Assembly before it completes its five-year term in end-March next, the opposition leader has initiated the consultative process at least six months before that eventuality.