Khaqan, Bhootani ‘among candidates’ for caretaker PM post

ISLAMABAD: The names of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and independent lawmaker from Balochistan Aslam Bhootani among others are being considered for the caretaker prime minister, it emerged Friday.

Sources confided that ex-finance minister Hafeez Sheikh and Fawad Hassan Fawad, ex-principal secretary to Nawaz Sharif, are also among those that will be discussed in a meeting of allied parties today.

According to details, as the government nears its term, coalition partners held a Zoom meeting to exchange views on the caretaker setup.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, and other senior leaders attended the huddle.

Balochistan National Party Chairman Akhtar Mengal, Jamhoori Wattan Party (JWP) leader Shahzain Bugti, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM) leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Bhootani, and National Democratic Movement (NDM) Chairman Mohsin Dawar were also present during the meeting.

In the meeting, various names were considered for caretaker prime minister, sources said.

However, the coalition parties have decided to continue further consultation, they said, adding that the meeting of the coalition parties will be held again.

The names of Abbasi, Hafeez Sheikh, and others were considered in the meeting as candidates for the interim PM slot.

The leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) held back-to-back meetings, but no decision has been taken so far in this regard.At a dinner reception on Thursday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif revealed to the allied that the National Assembly will be dissolved prematurely on August 9 — three days before its term.

Under the laws, if an assembly is dissolved after completing its tenure then the elections to the legislature are held within 60 days but in case it is dissolved prematurely then elections are held within 90 days.

Speaking at the dinner last night, the premier said after the formation of the coalition government on April 11 last year, he faced unprecedented challenges including economic difficulties, cumbersome talks with International Monetary Fund (IMF), disastrous floods, hyperinflation, and political chaos.

“Imran Niazi and his gang created political chaos with their baseless accusations, riots and long marches,” he recalled.

“No country could make progress without political stability,” he said, adding politics of the country was poisoned with the culture of baseless allegations and abuse.

Shehbaz said the uphill challenge of IMF gave him sleepless nights as the lack of an IMF agreement would have burdened the economy, put pressure on foreign exchange reserves, devalued the rupee, and caused unemployment.

He said he had critical talks with the IMF Managing Director in Paris which finally led to the successful conclusion of the agreement.

He thanked the coalition partners and his party leadership including Nawaz, Asif Zardari, Fazl, and others for their guidance and support and for reposing confidence in him in the National Assembly.

He also lauded the National Assembly speaker and the Senate chairman for amicably running proceedings of the Parliament.

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