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August 14, 2012

PML-N, PTI may challenge polls under Zardari

August 14, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The major opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is not prepared to go for general elections under President Asif Zardari and despite its harsh differences with the Imran Khan led Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), it could develop an understanding with it to device strategy for having polls in the country without Zardari.
The two parties could knock the door of the apex court separately on the point since both are accusing each other of having hobnobbed with the presidency. The constitutional experts are of the view that the president who should be head of the state when the general elections are held should be above the political divide and for the reason Constitution has empowered the president to appoint care-taker prime minister for supervising the administration during the electioneering.
On the same ground the presence of the present governors in the provinces would also be challenged by the PML-N and ultimately PTI and some other political groups would also join the move.
Well placed sources told The News that leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has been approached by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for establishing working relations with the opposition that should pave the way for consultation on the appointment of the caretaker prime minister, cabinet and subsequently similar arrangements to be carried out in the provinces for holding of the general elections in due process.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had extensive discussions with the leaders of his party and fellow members of the Parliament including leader of the opposition in Senate Senator Ishaq Dar about the proposition put forwarded by the prime minister. The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly is contemplating to have further discussions with other parliamentary groups, which are siding with the opposition in the two houses of the Parliament immediately after Eid.
The government has also planned to convene the

sessions of the National Assembly and Senate separately in the last week of this month.
The sources said that PML-N is of the view that Asif Zardari has throughout been acting as active, assertive executive president contrary what provided in the spirit of Constitution and demand of Parliamentary system since he had been leading the ruling party and also acted as mentor of the parties part of the ruling coalition.
He couldn’t be accepted as president when the elections are held. The question of removal of the president could open new pandora box before the beginning of the electoral process and could cause a constitutional crisis in the country.
The sources reminded the article 224 of the Constitution says regarding the care-taker prime minister and cabinet as “[(1)) A general election to the National Assembly or a provincial assembly shall be held within a period of sixty days immediately following the day on which the term of the assembly is due to expire, unless the assembly has been sooner dissolved, and the results of the election shall be declared not later than fourteen days before that day.] [(1A) On dissolution of the assembly on completion of its term, or in case it is dissolved under Article 8 or Article 112, the President, or the Governor, as the case may be, shall appoint a care-taker Cabinet: Provided that the care-taker prime minister shall be selected by the President in consultation with the prime minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing National Assembly, and a care-taker chief minister shall be appointed by the Governor in consultation with the chief minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Provincial Assembly: Provided further that the Members of the Federal and Provincial care-taker Cabinets shall be appointed on the advice of the care-taker prime minister or the care-taker chief minister, as the case may be. (1B) Members of the care-taker Cabinets including the care-taker prime minister and the care-taker chief minister and their immediate family members shall not be eligible to contest the immediately following elections to such assemblies. Explanation:- In this clause “immediate family members” means spouse and children.] (2) When the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly is dissolved, a general election to the assembly shall be held within a period of ninety days after the dissolution, and the results of the election shall be declared not later than fourteen days after the conclusion of the polls.”
In the meanwhile sources reminded that the government that has been vowing that it volunteered to accept Justice (Retired) Fakharuddin G Ibrahim as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Pakistan whose name was in the list of the nominees put forwarded by the opposition as part of its so-called policy of reconciliation. The constitution has mandated for active consultations between the leader of the house (prime minister) and leader of the opposition for such an appointment and in case they fail to reach an understanding the matter is referred to a parliamentary committee. The committee agreed for the name of Justice Fakharuddin G Ibrahim.
The sources revealed that it was not a simple matter since the acting CEC was appointed by the Chief Justice (CJ) of Pakistan and Justice Shakarullah Jan was the choice of the CJ. Had the parliamentary committee not reached an agreement; the acting CEC would have led the commission in the general election.
The Presidency was perturbed about it and an inside source told this scribe on anonymity that the occupant of the presidential palace said in a closed door meeting out of frustration that ‘We should accept Shahbaz Sharif as CEC but not the incumbent acting CEC to hold the general elections.’ Justice Shakarullah Jan who is attaining superannuation next week had been heading benches of the Supreme Court that adjudicated some historic cases and his verdicts were not popular with the government.

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