Zardari mulls out-of-box solution as stalemate deepens


With the stalemate over the name of caretaker prime minister and chief ministers of four provinces continuing, the Pakistan People’s Party and its allies on Sunday put further pressure on the opposition by finalising the names for the parliamentary committee to choose the interim prime minister.
Well-placed sources told Pakistan Today that no major contact was made between Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Opposition Leader Nisar Ali Khan and both sides rather kept focus on mulling ways and means to end the impasse.
“President Asif Ali Zardari gave final touches to his strategy to knock the PML-N out in the parliamentary committee where he hopes to gain majority. Moreover, two key close aides of the president, Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Dr Qayyum Soomro held a meeting with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to isolate the PML-N. Fazl is unhappy over the solo-flight of the PML-N for withdrawing the nomination of Justice (r) Shakirullah Jan as a caretaker PM nominee,” a source in the PPP said.
New names for caretaker PM emerge: Another source in the PML-Q said the coalition was also discussing a proposal to go for an out-of-the-box solution and bring forth new names for appointment of the caretaker PM if both sides could not evolve consensus over the previous nominees.
“Raza Rabbani is once again being discussed for the slot of caretaker PM, as the man is respected well in the PPP and the PML-N. However, he may not be cleared by the establishment. Same is the matter with Mahmood Khan Achakzai, who may also win support from both the parties. But the president is in no mood to send a wrong message to the GHQ and hence there are little chances of this gentleman. However, Afrasiab Khattak and Ishaq Dar may win support but they would be last options,” he added.
Parliamentary committee formation: According to the constitution, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have three days (until Tuesday) to agree on the caretaker prime minister’s name.
If they do not reach an agreement, the matter will go to an eight-member parliamentary committee consisting of the recently dissolved National Assembly.
The committee, which would consist of four members from the government and four from opposition parties, would have to decide on the caretaker PM within three days, failing which the matter would go to the Election Commission of Pakistan. The election commission’s decision, to be taken within two days, would be considered final.
The PPP source said his party and its allies also had finalised the names of the members of the parliamentary committee in case the PM and opposition leader could not decide the matter by tomorrow (Tuesday).
“The coalition has agreed on four names for the members of the committee, including Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah and Farooq Naik from the PPP, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour from the ANP and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain from the PML-Q,” the source said, adding that in case Ashraf and Nisar could not break the stalemate, the committee would decide the matter.
PML-N aims at avoiding committee: A PML-N leader said his party wanted to resolve the matter between the prime minister and leader of the opposition and a breakthrough may be possible by Monday evening.
“We know that the committee and ECP are the last options. So we would like to resolve the impasse mutually. Yes, we know that the government might maneuver in its favour the situation in the committee or the ECP, but we have also trump card of dissolution of the Punjab Assembly earlier than its term which is April 9. So if the PPP has some cards to play, we have ours and we want to resolve the matter mutually through talks,” he added.
Meanwhile, a last ditch effort to woo back the support of JUI-F chief by the PML-N failed on Sunday.
JUI-F sources said Maulana Fazl was adamant and did not accept the explanation of the visitors for withdrawing the name of Justice (r) Shakirullah Jan, stating that the PML-N leadership should review its arrogant behaviour, as ignoring coalition partners was not a new phenomenon by Nawaz Sharif and company.


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