- Special Pages
ISLAMABAD: All hopes of reaching a likely breakthrough between the government and the country’s largest opposition party with regard to a caretaker set-up faded after Nawaz Sharif politely “turned down” the president’s request to hold a one-on-one meeting at Raiwind.
Sources in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) revealed that the party chief had turned down the request after President Asif Ali Zardari expressed his desire to visit Sharif’s Raiwind residence during his stay in Lahore.
“We have respectfully turned down the request for a meeting between President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif,” sources said yesterday.
“It has been respectfully conveyed that Sharif cannot meet President Zardari,” they said.
The president’s spokesperson and Senator Farhatullah Babar said that no meeting between Zardari and Sharif was planned or scheduled.
According to media reports, the president wanted to offer his condolences to the PML-N chief over the death of his brother, Abbas Sharif.
Zardari is staying at his newly-built Bilawal House in Lahore and is to oversee the party position ahead of the general elections.
The clarification from the spokesperson possibly came in the backdrop of a written assurance given by Zardari in the dual office case that he would quit political activities at the presidency.
The meeting, which has been cancelled due to a possible trust deficit between the two parties, was being viewed by observers as a major breakthrough to the procedural deadlock in appointing a caretaker set-up.
Sources said that the PML-N chief would start an internal consultation process that was likely to last a week with meetings scheduled on a daily basis.
Though the government and the opposition have not yet engaged in a consultation process as per the Constitution, they have held several informal rounds over the issue, with the opposition demanding a role in appointment of all the caretakers.
A senior PML-N leader said that his party would engage in negotiations with the government after taking other parties in the opposition into confidence over the caretaker prime minister and other officials.
He said that the chances of a final decision over the caretaker names by the Election Commission of Pakistan were limited.
“We want consultation but not merely on the appointment of the caretaker prime minister,” he added.
According to the provision in the Constitution for the appointment of the caretaker government, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and the premier will nominate a caretaker set-up through consultation.