Govt, opposition at impasse over Punjab caretaker CM

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ECP to take up matter of key post’s appointment

The government and opposition Friday decided that they could not agree on the appointment of Punjab’s caretaker chief minister, and it is expected that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will take up the matter now.

The development comes after the parliamentary committee, constituted a day earlier, held its first meeting in Lahore to deliberate on the important appointment.

The committee included Mian Aslam Iqbal, Raja Basharat, and Hashim Jawan Bakht from the government, while Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan, Hassan Murtaza and Nadeem Kamran represented the opposition.

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader Malik, speaking to journalists after the meeting, said: “This was an opportunity to settle things politically, but that could not be done here.”

“When there are so many polarised positions, there can be no agreement.”

For his part, Murtaza confirmed the divide on the matter and said both sides could not agree on the appointment of the caretaker chief minister.

“It is a pity that we are leaving here without consensus,” he added.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader also lamented the stalemate, saying, “when the house was small, the people were big; now the house has become big, while people have become small.”

“Unfortunately we could not agree [on a name], we are not leaving with good memories,” he added.

It must be pointed out here that as per law, the parliamentary committee was formed under Article 224A of the constitution and comprises six lawmakers.

The committee has three days to reach an accord over a name for the top spot in Punjab. In case of disagreement, the matter will be decided by the election commission, which must then settle on a caretaker CM in two days.

PML-N committee member Malik said that if the committee fails to reach an agreement the matter of selection will go to the ECP and a decision will be made according to the constitution.

However, outgoing Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi has already declared that if the decision-making power is left to the ECP, he will take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Defending the PML-N nominee Ahad Cheema, Malik reiterated his faith in him and asked: “What was the decision given in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) case against him? Didn’t Ahad build the metro in Pakistan and prove his mettle?”

Ahad, known as the best administrator in the Shehbaz Sharif chief ministership, is also called the “Metro Man” among his close friends and political circles. However, he remained in NAB custody during Imran Khan’s tenure and was acquitted of the charge later.

“NAB was used for political revenge under Imran Khan,” Malik said.

Malik also bolstered Mohsin Naqvi’s nomination and said that Mohsin had built his credibility by working for CNN.