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Monday July 15, 2024

Shehbaz-Raja meeting on caretaker PM postponed again

Premier's meeting with opposition leader postponed as latter cites busy schedule as reason for delay

By Azam Malik
August 09, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif exchanges views with Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly, Raja Riaz Ahmad and MNA Nawab Sher Waseer during meeting held in Lahore on Saturday, May 27, 2023. — PPI
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif exchanges views with Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly, Raja Riaz Ahmad and MNA Nawab Sher Waseer during meeting held in Lahore on Saturday, May 27, 2023. — PPI 

LAHORE: As the countdown to the government's final hours begins, the decision to name the country's caretaker prime minister ahead of general elections continues to be delayed.

To jot down the final names for the coveted post, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has conducted several meetings with coalition partners in the government, but his one-to-one discussion with Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Raja Riaz, a dissident of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), regarding the decision, continues to face a delay, sources told Geo News.

According to the sources, the premier's meeting — scheduled to take place at 4pm on Wednesday  — with Riaz was postponed again with the latter citing his busy schedule as the reason for the delay.

The sources also mentioned that Riaz was informed about the meeting in writing.

Pakistan's parliament has been dissolved, ushering in a technocrat-led interim government to oversee an election that will not include PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

The country has been in political turmoil since the former premier, who was ousted after a no-confidence motion last year, was arrested for graft during the weekend following a months-long crackdown on his party.

By law, elections should be held within 90 days of parliament's dissolution, but the outgoing government has already warned they are likely to be delayed.

The opposition leader, on Tuesday, spoke with Geo News stating that the proposed names of the interim prime ministers will be shared by the government, adding that he will also suggest a few names from his side.

"Prior to this, no name for the caretaker prime minister from the premier was given nor was there any consultation," Riaz said.

He said that he has finalised three names after the consultation with his colleagues. Riaz told Geo News that PM Shehbaz said the decision of the caretaker prime minister will be made through collective consultation.

"Shehbaz Sharif had said that no name has been shortlisted yet for the caretaker prime minister and Nawaz Sharif is being consulted on this matter," Riaz said, adding that the PML-N is trying to introduce an acceptable name for the position.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah earlier confirmed that former finance minister Hafeez Sheikh's name was shortlisted for the post.

On the other hand, PM Shehbaz had Tuesday confirmed that he would write to President Dr Arif Alvi today (August 9) to dissolve the National Assembly, which would bring the incumbent government’s term to a marginally premature end.

The government has announced that assemblies will be dissolved three days ahead of the mandated period, following which elections are to be held within 90 days.

Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad, PM Shehbaz said: “After completing our [government’s] term tomorrow, I will write and send [the advice] to the president to dissolve the assembly and then an interim government will take over.”