Pakistan general elections likely between July 25-27
Pakistan's election commission on Monday proposed July 25-27 as possible dates for holding general elections in the country. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) forwarded a report to President Mamnoon Hussain requesting him to set one of the proposed dates as the day of the polls. The announcement comes just days before the term of the sitting PML-N government is set to expire on May 31.
Consultations regarding candidates for the post of caretaker prime minister are also ongoing. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi held a meeting with Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah regarding the matter last week. A final meeting is expected to take place tomorrow.
Prior to the meeting, Abbasi met PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif yesterday to discuss candidates for the post. A close aide to Sharif and a senior PML-N leader told the daily that the meeting was of the view that it did not make much difference whether the PML-N proposed a name for the caretaker prime minister "as everyone knows who would control him at the end of the day".
"In such a situation there is a view in the party that it should not be keen in nominating someone for the slot," he said, adding that if this view prevailed (in the party) either the opposition (PPP) nominee would get the nod of the PML-N or the matter might be referred to the ECP.
Another leader who was privy to the development was quoted as saying that Sharif was not in favour of referring this matter to the ECP and wanted consensus. He said the huddle also seriously pondered over accepting the nominee of the PPP for the caretaker premier.
"It will not come as a surprise if Abbasi says yes to the name proposed by Shah for the caretaker premier," he said, adding that the PML-N would at least be in a position to point a finger at the caretaker set-up if things went against it in the coming general elections. Shah has already said that he and the prime minister would finalise the name of the caretaker prime minister by tomorrow and announce it the same day.
If the prime minister and the opposition leader fail to reach a consensus on a candidate, they will have to make public three names each. The list of the six nominees will be referred to a parliamentary committee, which will be formed by the National Assembly speaker.
Reports said that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has proposed former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf and former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jillani as opposition candidates to become caretaker prime minister.
Other names being circulated in the media include former governor State Bank of Pakistan Ishrat Hussain, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to United Nations Maleeha Lodhi, former secretary of the ECP Ishtiak Ahmad Khan and former chief justices Jawad S Khawaja, Tassaduq Hussain Jillani or Anwar Zaheer Jamali.