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ISLAMABAD: While the full term of the National Assembly (the lower house) of Pakistan came to an end yesterday, the deadlock over choosing an interim executive of the country persists with the government and opposition failing to agree on a mutually acceptable nominee.
The Pakistan People’s Party has scoffed at the ‘ridiculous choices’ of the opposition leader in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. On the other hand, the opposition, led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), refused to back down. Hitting back, it has rejected the government’s nominees.
Initially, Nisar proposed three names — Justice (Rtd) Nasir Aslam Zahid, Justice (Rtd) Shakirullah Jan and nationalist leader Rasool Bux Palijo — for the top slot. However, he later withdrew Justice (Rtd) Jan’s name.
The PPP’s nominees are Justice (Rtd) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, Dr Ishrat Hussain and Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh. The party has claimed the opposition’s nominees are biased towards it.
“Both of them are apparently against the PPP, and they would not be neutral nominees,” said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, speaking to the media here yesterday. He explained that Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid is the brother-in-law of Justice Nizamuddin, who was assassinated during the PPP’s second tenure.
President Asif Ali Zardari was implicated in the murder case, hence, he will not be neutral towards the PPP if he is nominated for caretaker prime minister, said Kaira.
The minister added that Palijo has his own political party led by his son in Sindh, where he has formed an anti-PPP election alliance, thereby destroying his neutrality towards the PPP.
“The PML-N was well aware of these facts, and even then it intentionally forwarded such names for caretaker prime minister. That is why we have called it a mockery,” said Kaira.
However, he expressed optimism that there would be a consensus between the government and opposition parties for a caretaker prime minster in the next three days. Law Minister Farooq H Naek confirmed that the government has no plan to submit fresh nominations. “We will not float new names for an interim prime minister,” he said.
Addressing the media after a party meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, PML-N’s Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan said that his party has decided to stick with the name of Justice (Rtd) Nasir Aslam Zahid for the office of caretaker prime minister.
However, as the stalemate continues, the ruling party has intimated names for the eight-member parliamentary committee which will decide upon the interim premier lest the prime minister and opposition leader fail to do so.
Under Article 224 of the Constitution, the prime minister and opposition leader have three days after the dissolution of the National Assembly to reach an agreement. In case of an impasse, the eight-member parliamentary committee is entitled to do the needful. If the committee too fails, the election commission takes up the task.
Sources said that two PPP members, along with one member each from Awami National Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid have been recommended by the PPP for the treasury benches of the committee, in order to exert ?moral pressure? on the opposition.
These include Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain of PML-Q , Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of the ANP and PPP leaders Naek and Syed Khurshid Shah, said sources.