Shehbaz invites Raja Riaz for consultations on caretaker PM


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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday wrote a letter to the outgoing Opposition Leader in the National Assembly (NA) Raja Riaz, inviting him to meet today for consultations on the appointment of a caretaker premier.

The move comes a day after President Dr Arif Alvi dissolved the NA on the advice of the prime minister, setting the stage for general elections latest by November 9.

The Constitution gives a 90-day timeframe for holding the elections upon the dissolution of the assembly before the end of its five-year term.

In his letter today, the premier said that the president has dissolved the NA under Article 58(1) of the Constitution and that he is ready to fulfill his constitutional responsibility for the appointment of the caretaker premier.

Under the Constitution, they have three days after the dissolution of the assembly to finalise the name of the caretaker prime minister.

If there is no consensus on any name, the matter will be referred to a parliamentary committee.

If the committee also fails to make any decision, then the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will have two days to choose the caretaker PM from the list of names shared with the commission.

With the dissolution of the assembly, the country is all set to go to the general election, while it grapples with political and economic crises, despite being under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme.

The National Assembly was scheduled to complete its term on August 12 but the prime minister, while using his powers under Article 58(1) sought the dissolution just three days early.

Speculations about different contenders for the post of caretaker prime minister have been doing rounds for weeks now but there is no official word yet.

It all started when the government showed its intention a few weeks ago to dissolve the assembly earlier than its scheduled time so that it could get an additional month for the election campaign.

The situation was intensified when Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s name started gaining traction for the post of caretaker premier. Though several other names surfaced later, PM Shehbaz hasn’t ruled out Dar’s name yet.

Following his meeting with the opposition leader, it is expected that a unanimously agreed upon name would be revealed.

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