The much-awaited meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the Leader of the Opposition in the now-dissolved National Assembly, Raja Riaz Ahmad, concluded without an agreement on a name for the head of the caretaker setup.
With the caretaker prime minister, to be mutually decided by Shehbaz and Riaz, set to lead the country until a new government is sworn in after general elections, a consensus between the two is critical on who would be handed this grave responsibility.
On Thursday, Riaz called on Shehbaz at the Prime Minister's House. Even though the incumbent government stands dissolved, Shehbaz will remain in the post until a caretaker candidate is confirmed to replace him in the interest of continuity. According to Article 94 of the Constitution, "The president may ask the prime minister to continue to hold office until his successor enters upon the office of prime minister."
This was the first meeting between Shehbaz and Riaz on evolving a consensus on who would be the caretaker prime minister.
The two deliberated at length on the issue, with their meeting lasting around an hour.
He said that some names were presented by PM Shehbaz, which he would review, adding that the PM is likely to reciprocate by deliberating on the names presented by Riaz
However, the two failed to agree on any name in Thursday's meeting. Riaz later confirmed that the two have decided to reconvene on Friday for a second round of talks.
Speaking to the media outside the PM House, Riaz said that the meeting was held in a cordial environment.
He said that some names were presented by PM Shehbaz, which he would review, adding that the PM is likely to reciprocate by deliberating on the names presented by Riaz.
While he did not unveil any of the names under deliberation, Riaz stated that a total of six names are now under discussion - three from the government and three from the opposition - and that all of the candidates are "respectable people".
PM @CMShehbaz and Opposition Leader Raja Riaz Ahmed hold consultative meeting to nominate suitable person for slot of caretaker Prime Minister as per Constitution@PakPMO https://t.co/1mQWC5AdCD pic.twitter.com/MOCW4pSQiY— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) August 10, 2023
Shehbaz and Riaz have another two days to decide on a name.
Earlier in the day, Shehbaz formally invited Riaz to consultations with the caretaker prime minister.
The invitation was sent per Article 224(1A) of the Constitution.
Sanjrani is Riaz's pick?
While entering the meeting and later exiting it, Riaz remained tight-lipped about who was among his three picks for the caretaker prime minister.
However, according to Geo News' sources, Riaz has recommended the name of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani for the post of caretaker prime minister.
While there was no confirmation of this, Sanjrani later met with Shehbaz at PM House, though it was unclear what that meeting was about. However, an image of their meeting was released to the press later.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Peoples Party, part of the ruling coalition, has reportedly suggested the names of former Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jillani and former Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.