'Question Mark On Electoral Process': Asif Pours Cold Water On Dar's Caretaker PM Rumours

'Question Mark On Electoral Process': Asif Pours Cold Water On Dar's Caretaker PM Rumours
Rumours that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) could nominate senior party and federal cabinet member Ishaq Dar for the slot of the caretaker prime minister have now run into opposition from his party, with a key voice dismissing it.

Among those who have spoken out or dismissed the rumours are a senior party member and Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb.

In an interview on Monday, Asif said that such a move is unlikely to "sail through", adding that the role of the caretaker prime minister is that of an umpire and if a partisan individual is appointed to it, it would put a question mark on the electoral process.

"There are people within the government who have stated that this will not sail through, legally or constitutionally," he said in the interview with journalist Alina Shigri.

Asif continued that such a nomination would put a question mark on the electoral process from day one.

"The role of the interim prime minister is that of an umpire," he said, as he described Dar as someone who is a responsible office bearer of the party, a minister and someone who is so close to the party's leadership.

"There will be other opportunities for Ishaq Dar after elections," he said, adding that such a move would not stand the test of public scrutiny and media.

I don't think any of the names circulating on social media are being considered, he added.

The defence minister further said that there does exist a possibility that the assemblies could be dissolved a few days prior to the end of their tenure. But the situation would become clear over the next 10 to 15 days.

Asked why the assemblies would be dissolved so close to their natural expiration date, Asif said that the Constitution does provide that option and if it provides any strategic advantage, and if it is availed, no constitutional provision is being violated.


Meanwhile, Aurangzeb said that the process for announcing and appointing a caretaker prime minister will follow the steps identified in the Constitution.

With regards to the names of the government's nominated candidates, she said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would finalize it in consultation with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and the other coalition partners of the government.

Thereafter, the prime minister and Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Raja Riaz Ahmad, will hold a consultative meeting to deliberate on nominees of both sides and finalize a name as per the Constitution.

READ MORE: Consultations With PM On Interim Setup After Assembly Dissolution, Says Raja Riaz Ahmad

The other day, it emerged that Ishaq Dar is being considered for the role of caretaker prime minister, with the government seeking a candidate who has both administrative experience to manage the day-to-day affairs of government and experience in managing Pakistan's troubled economy.

It is also rumoured that the government is seeking to bring amendments to Article 230 of the Constitution, which defines the powers of the caretaker setup and interim prime minister.

READ MORE: Will Amend Election Act To Enable Interim PM To Take Significant Decisions: Dar

Dar, later in a television interview, lent weight to the rumours, stating that given the precarious situation of the country, handing the reins to a caretaker setup that manages the day-to-day affairs would be a waste.


Coalition not on board yet

Earlier on Monday, Federal Climate Minister Sherry Rehman, who is a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that makes up the ruling rainbow coalition, denied that they had reached an agreement with its coalition partner PML-N over the name of the caretaker prime minister.

"No name has been shared with the Pakistan Peoples Party," she clarified before a press conference in Islamabad on Monday.

She added that a three-member committee has been constituted to deliberate on names.


The Prime Minister's aide on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Faisal Karim Kundi, told the same news briefing that the PPP had yet to receive Ishaq Dar's name to consider it for the slot of caretaker prime minister.

He said that the party will give its names after discussing them in the party meeting.

Earlier, Pakistan Democaratic Movement (PDM) spokesperson and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F’s) Hafiz Hamdullah reportedly denied agreeing on Dar's nomination as caretaker prime minister.

He said that the PML-N may have decided on nominating Dar but the ruling coalition has yet to be taken into confidence over it.

Hamdullah went a step further and categorically ruled out giving the interim prime minister slot to technocrats such as Shaukat Aziz, Moeen Qureshi, Raza Baqir or Hafiz Sheikh.

Since the matter was brought up, there has been severe criticism of it from various quarters.

In a tweet, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency (PILDAT) President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob stated that should Dar be appointed as caretaker prime minister, it would run counter to the spirit of the caretaker system.


Journalist Talat Hussain in his daily vlog took up the subject as well and stated that it would open the door to criticism from several quarters and the only ones to blame for the fallout would be those who suggested it in the first place. He, however, reminded that constitutionally there was no bar on naming such a candidate, but there were severe moral repercussions.

He added that these are amongst the most important elections after the 1970s where there is so much anger, frustration. He said that the biggest question was whether they want this to be the beginning of a new source of controversy or you want to bury old controversies through this election.

All decisions taken since now until the elections, from the nomination of caretakers and arrangements of elections, powers of Election Commission of Pakistan, to delimitations will have a critical bearing on the elections.