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Govt and Opposition in provinces at odds over caretaker setup

ISLAMABAD: The assemblies completing their mandated term tonight but the opposition and governments in all four provinces yet to reach an agreement about caretaker setups in their respective provinces.

The National Assembly, Punjab and Balochistan assemblies are going through the last day of their mandated term to stand dissolved at 12:00 in midnight on Thursday (today).

It is rare second time in a row that the assemblies completing their tenures in Pakistan without any disruption, pointing out to the stabilization and maturity of the democratic system in Pakistan.

The provincial assemblies of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces completed their constitutional terms on May 28.

The cabinets will also seize to exist along with the dissolution of the three assemblies.

The National Assembly before reaching to the end of its tenure, passed the landmark legislation about the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The things in Pakistan’s journey on the path of democracy, however, are not smooth, as except in the Centre, the government and opposition in the four provinces yet to decide who will head the interim setup in their respective provinces.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has taken back the name of Manzoor Afridi after PTI chairman Imran Khan rejected the decided nomination for the interim setup in the province. The decision has created a deadlock between the two sides, which needs hectic efforts to iron out.

The PTI also withdraw its decision of nominating Nasir Mehmood Khosa as the Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab after criticism in the party ranks.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed his surprise over the PTI’s change of heart, saying Mr Khosa’s name had been given by the opposition and finalised after a thorough consultation.

He said the issue of caretaker chief minister stood settled as a summary in this regard had already been sent to the Punjab governor that could not be legally withdrawn.

Outgoing Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izharul Hasan have failed to break the ice for a consensus candidate to lead the interim setup in Sindh.

After the two sides held their first meeting on Monday, it was expected that the government and opposition will hold further consultations on Tuesday but the two sides did not hold a meeting on the day.

The chief minister and opposition leader in their first meeting discussed and exchanged the names of each side for the caretaker chief minister office.

According to sources, People’s Party has suggested the names of Qayyum Soomro, Dr. Younus Soomro and Ghulam Ali Pasha, while the MQM has floated the names of former chief secretary Lala Fazal-ur-Rehman and seasoned politician and media personality Javed Jabbar.

It was being expected that there would be no problem in finalising a consensus candidate but the two sides did not come into contact on Tuesday.

The opposition leader and the outgoing chief minister have yet to decide the matter.

Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo on Wednesday said that the provincial government was in contact with the opposition over the issue of caretaker chief minister and both sides were likely to finalise a unanimous name by June 3.

“Legally, the tenure of the Balochistan government will last till June 3 and we are optimistic that the provincial government and the opposition will reach a unanimous name for the post of the caretaker chief minister by June 3 or we will refer the matter to a parliamentary committee and the Election Commission of Pakistan,” Bizenjo added.

In case the deadlock persists between the government and the opposition in the provinces the matter will be decided by a parliamentary panel with equal representation from the opposition and the government.

The matter will finally be decided by the election commission if the parliamentary panel would also fail to decide a name for the interim setup.

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