ECP solves CM conundrum, nominates CMs for Punjab, Balochistan

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  • Electoral watchdog names Hassan Askari for caretaker Punjab CM, Allauddin Marri for interim Balochistan CM
  • PML-N rejects ECP’s selection of Hassan Askari, maintains he is ‘not neutral’ 
  • Shehbaz Sharif says Askari a known critic of PML-N and also advocated delay in elections 

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday named the caretaker chief ministers for Punjab and Balochistan, thus completing the selection process of caretaker provincial heads for all provinces.

ECP Additional Secretary Akhtar Nazir announced the decision in a press conference following a meeting of the electoral watchdog headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan in Islamabad.

“All respected members took place in the meeting and unanimously decided that Punjab’s caretaker CM would be Professor Hassan Askari Rizvi,” Nazir said.

The decision to appoint analyst Dr Hasan Askari as Punjab caretaker CM and Allauddin Marri as Balochistan interim CM came after parliamentary committees of both provinces failed to reach consensus on the issue of chief ministers. Likewise, ECP also selected Justice (r) Dost Muhammad Khan as the KP interim CM, who took oath on Wednesday. Sindh alone was able to choose a caretaker CM, Fazalur Rehman, on June 3, on its own.

The ECP said that the notification for the appointment of the caretaker chief minister’s has been issued.

Hassan Askari Rizvi will take oath for his new post tomorrow (Friday). Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana will administer the oath.

HASSAN ASKARI NAMED CARETAKER PUNJAB CM: 

The ECP’s decision to name Askari for the top post didn’t go down well with the erstwhile ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which lashed out at the ECP for appointing a ‘biased’ candidates.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that the selection of Askari Rizvi by ECP does not fulfil the criterion of neutrality. “He is also a known critic of PML-N and his position vis-a-vis PML-N is clearly biased. He has also advocated a delay in elections.”

“With his appointment, the image of ECP is going to be severely damaged,” he added.

In an immediate presser post-ECP decision, the senior leadership of the PML-N, including ex-prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, announced to reject the appointment of Dr Askari.

The former premier was of the view that Hassan Askari is “not a neutral person” as “he had said in the past that the elections shouldn’t be held in warm weather”. “How can he ensure that the elections are held on time when he holds such views,” he said.

Ahsan Iqbal said if the election is made controversial, a political crisis will emerge after the poll that will be “poisonous” for the country. He said he is calling on the people of Pakistan to “protect the vote” after the ECP verdict.

Party leader Rana Sanaullah also expressed reservations, saying that the analyst has always targetted the PML-N. “He does not believe in democracy and cannot be expected to ensure work is done on merit and without bias,” the PML-N leader claimed.

The former law minister further said, “We have issued a written statement over reservations on Dr Askari’s appointment and we can challenge it.”

The matter was referred to the ECP after the PML-N and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) locked horns over the choice of a candidate for the CMship, especially since PTI backtracked on its own nominee which the PML-N had agreed upon–Nasir Saeed Khosa.

During a parliamentary committee meeting on Wednesday, the PML-N had rejected both the names proposed by the opposition, PTI, saying the nominees for the slot were “not neutral”.

The names fielded by the opposition included that of Hassan Askari and Ayaz Amir, while the PML-N put forth the names of former naval chief Mohammad Zakaullah and Justice (r) Sahir Ali.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, PTI leader and former opposition leader Mehmoodur Rasheed had said that the government didn’t agree on Ayaz Amir, while the opposition rejected former chief of Pakistan Navy Zakaullah.

“Defence analyst Hassan Askari was the only neutral candidate, we tried very hard to convince the government to agree. But the government refused to budge from their stance,” he had said.

However, PML-N asserted that the two names proposed by PTI were “not neutral”.

 

Meanwhile, Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi has said that he will make sure that elections are carried out transparently and fairly on time.

He further said that that though PTI suggested his name for the post, he will remain impartial throughout his tenure as caretaker CM, adding that PML-N is all in its right to criticise the appointment.

ALLAUDDIN MARRI NAMED CARETAKER BALOCHISTAN CM:

Meanwhile, the ECP announced Allauddin Marri to be the caretaker chief minister of Balochistan.

Marri, who belongs to Mastung district of Balochistan, was recommended by the former provincial government that had also proposed the name of Sardar Shaukat Popalzai for the post.

The former opposition had suggested the names of Mohammad Aslam Bhutani and Ashraf Jahangir Qazi.

The decision to finalise a caretaker chief minister for Balochistan was handed over to the ECP after parliamentary committee formed for the purpose failed to make a call.

Abdul Quddus Bizenjo-led provincial government had refused to participate in the parliamentary committee meeting, the opposition met and deemed the meeting inconclusive. Former CM Sanaullah Zehri and Dr Abdul Malik Baloch also attended the meeting.

Former CM Zehri had said, “We are acting according to the Constitution, but the former government is creating hurdles.”

“Bizenjo wants to make amendments to the Constitution which will make him chief minister for life. Balochistan will not entertain any more jokes,” he had added.