The political temperature in Islamabad is starting to heat up as deadlock appears to have emerged between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and 'friendly' Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz Ahmad over the caretaker prime minister slot even as President Dr Arif Alvi has opted for the stick, stressing the urgency to PM Shehbaz on finalising the caretaker PM.
Sources suggest that Shehbaz has been pushing the names of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former federal finance minister Senator Ishaq Dar for the caretaker prime minister slot. Failing which, former prime minister and disgruntled PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is the preferred option, claimed a report in the daily newspaper Dawn. Options from allied parties, including Jalil Abbas Jillani and Justice (retired) Tassadduq Hussain Jillani from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) not considered key candidates for what will be an extended caretaker setup.
Meanwhile, Ahmad, who was all but abandoned by his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), for adopting a dissident view of the party's parliamentary policy to resign en-masse, has been pushing for the appointment of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani as the caretaker prime minister.
Sanjrani has embarked on a charm offensive in the past couple of days, first meeting PM Shehbaz in the PM House and then with Ishaq Dar and Ahsan Iqbal.
Alvi stresses urgency
Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi has stressed the urgency to finalise the name of the caretaker prime minister.
Alvi wrote to PM Shehbaz on Friday, urging him to finalise a name with Ahmed by no later than August 12.
However, this irked Shehbaz, who fired back that the Constitution gave him time to complete consultations to their satisfaction.
He added that per the Constitution, he still had eight days to serve as prime minister, as the procedure for appointment of the caretaker prime minister as prescribed in the Constitution stipulates that even if talks between the Leader of the house and opposition fail, the matter will be handed over to a bipartisan parliamentary body to resolve in another three days. Failing that, the matter will be taken up by the Election Commission of Pakistan to resolve.