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EditorialIshaq Dar eyeing the interim PM slot

Ishaq Dar eyeing the interim PM slot

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had recently stated that he wanted the caretaker setup to continue his government’s policies to achieve “consistent progress”. With the announcement of the name of Ishaq Dar as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) candidate for interim prime minister, the party has kind of explained what Shehbaz Sharif meant.

Not only this, the PML-N intends to amend the Elections Act 2017 to empower the caretaker government to take important decisions just like an elected government and not deal with day-to-day matters only.The reason that is being given is that the country cannot afford to waste three months of the interim setup’s tenure in handling just day-to-day affairs when economic reforms as per the International Monetary Fund’s conditions needed continuity.

The PML-N’s decision to put forward Ishaq Dar’s name for the caretaker prime minister has not gone down well with its major ally – Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Though the PML-N would have a hard time convincing the allies, particularly the PPP, it is not ready to budge on it either. It believes that just as it was the party’s prerogative to appoint an army chief, it should appoint an interim prime minister as well.

The party believes that this was necessary to ensure the general elections were held on time, therefore a trustworthy person should be entrusted with the responsibility, and whose more trustworthy than someone from the family.This decision has the complete backing of the PML-N Quaid, Nawaz Sharif.

Whether the PPP will agree to it, we will have to wait and see, but from the way things are progressing at the political front, the party would ultimately accept it.  It is clear that both the PML-N and PPP want to see a politician lead the interim government and see to it that the polls are held on time.Under the election rules, a neutral setup should be in place for an interim period of 60 or 90 days till general elections are held, but there is no specific clause in the Constitution that says the caretaker government should be neutral.

The PML-N is reported to have started making efforts to take all stakeholders on board, including the military establishment.Infact there are reports of the PPP and the PML-N leadership holding talks in Dubai though there is no official confirmation, apart from PPP’s Farhatullah Babar.

The PML-N seems to be taking no chances. It wants a stage set to its advantage. If at all Ishaq Dar is appointed the interim prime minister, this very act would undermine the credibility of polls as he is a PML-N loyalist.On the other hand, the amendment to the Elections Act is being made to empower the interim government. Though the PML-N is claiming that this is necessary to ensure polls are held as per schedule, the way caretakers are being strengthened, it points to something else.

One can see the caretaker Punjab and KP governments have been in place for months now.

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