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ISLAMABAD: As part of its election strategy, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has decided in principle to have non-political personalities inducted as caretaker prime minister and provincial chief ministers, dissolve assemblies by mid-February and hold elections for national and provincial assemblies on the same date in the middle of May.
A senior PPP leader, who attended a meeting of the party’s core committee on Monday, said that the party would not approve of any retired military officer or retired judge for the interim prime minister or chief ministers.
He spoke at length about the key decisions taken by the PPP for elections, but declined to speak on record.
He said the PPP leadership had decided that the five key positions — the interim prime minister and four chief ministers — would be filled with non-controversial personalities like reputed former bureaucrats or persons of integrity, citing the name of former ambassador to the United Nations Hussain Haroon as an example.
According to the PPP leader, the date for dissolution of assemblies was discussed, but it was agreed that they should be dissolved by mid-February and elections held within 90 days by mid-May.
He agreed that delaying elections beyond mid-May was not in the interest of the PPP because of hot weather and loadshedding.
He said the PPP would propose holding national and provincial elections on the same day. A committee, headed by Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Shah and comprising one member each from four provinces, will hold talks with the Pakistan Muslim League-N this week on the possibility of dissolving the assemblies on the same day because the Punjab Assembly’s term would expire in a few days after that of the other assemblies.
The PPP leader said the committee also discussed the name of the proposed new province and recommended that instead of Bahawalpur Janoobi Province, the new province be named as Bahawalpur Seraiki Province irrespective of the PML-N’s reaction.
He said the PPP had decided for the time agreed on the introduction of a bill or recommendations of a parliamentary commission on new provinces in the National Assembly to create one province as opposed to two suggested by the PML-N.
He said the PPP leadership believed that if the PML-N agreed to the creation of Bahawalpur Seraiki Province, it would be considered a victory and political gain for the PPP but the chances of such a breakthrough were apparently limited. In the event of PML-N opposing the new province, it would still be a political gain for the PPP.
He said the meeting also discussed two names for the post of caretaker prime minister suggested by the PML-N, but they may not be cleared by intelligence agencies. In that case, the PML-N will have alternative names in mind the PPP would like to discuss through the Khursheed Shah committee.
He said the PPP would also float names of its nominees after consultations with allied parties and try to reach a consensus with the PML-N.
Asked how the PPP planned to deal with the situation in Balochistan given the suspension of the provincial assembly, he said the chances of restoration of government in the provinces did not arise, given the fact that the constitution provided for governor’s rule for two months and by that time all other assemblies would be dissolved.
To another question, the official said the committee had not discussed as yet names for caretaker prime minister because the leadership wanted to hold consultations with allied parties first.