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March 25, 2018

Govt to consult allies, opposition on caretaker set-up


March 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would approach the coalition partners and the opposition parties to discuss the possibility of introducing new constitutional amendment to remove ambiguities related to the caretaker set-up and ensure general elections are held on time without any kind of delay, the sources told The News here on Saturday.

The sources said the PML-N wants to address various issues through new constitutional amendment, including introduction of eligibility criteria for caretaker set-up; description of decision-making authority of the caretaker officials; and constitutional status of the interim administration with regard to the Senate and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared in its verdict given on June 6, 2013, “A caretaker government possesses limited powers and authority, particularly in view of the fact that when it is appointed, there is no National Assembly in place and thus the all important aspect of accountability is absent.”

But still the rumours are ripe in the town about giving extension to yet-to-be-installed caretaker set-up to initiate comprehensive accountability process in the country.

According to the official data, “The 18th Amendment in 2010 added sub-articles 1A and 1B to Article 224. Article 224 (1A) took away the presidential discretion and extended the right to participate in the appointment of the caretaker prime minister (or chief minister in the provinces) to the prime minister and leader of the opposition in the outgoing National Assembly or chief minister and the leader of the opposition in the outgoing provincial assembly.”

The sources said the PML-N would try to pave the way for new constitutional amendment, but it would be a hard nut to crack as the main opposition parties, including PPP and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have been opposing the government at all fronts for last many months.

When contacted, a federal minister gave off-the-record version in which he confirmed that “the PML-N will approach the political parties and try to convince them for new amendment, but if they give negative response then it will formulate its own strategy to deal with this issue.”

“Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has floated the proposal for new amendment to remove ambiguities related to the caretaker set-up. But the ruling party wants that new legislation should also strictly prohibit giving extension to the interim government,” the sources said.

But on the other hand, the sources pointed out that the minister of state for finance and economic affairs had stated in January this year that “the government can request the Supreme Court to give extension of two to three weeks to it after completion of its five-year constitutional term to approve the annual budget for the next fiscal year.”

When contacted, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb was not available to offer her comments in this respect.

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