Hafeez Shaikh among candidates shortlisted for caretaker PM: Interior minister

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the former finance minister had been shortlisted after a consensus had been developed in recent days.


August 8, 2023

ISLAMABAD – Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Sunday that former finance minister Hafeez Shaikh was among the candidates shortlisted for the slot of the caretaker prime minister.

The minister revealed this on Geo News show ‘Naya Pakistan’, saying that a consensus had been developed in recent days that a person considered “neutral” should be appointed to the post.

Asked whether Shaikh was willing to take up the responsibility, Sanaullah said, “He surely would be.”

Shaikh’s name was among those earlier reported to have been included in a list of five finalised by parties in the ruling coalition for the caretaker prime minister. The purported list was also said to have included former chief justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

In an apparent reference to him, when Sanaullah was asked on the Geo News programme today whether a retired judge of the apex court was also among the shortlisted candidates, his reply was vague.

“Yes, there are people from all segments,” he said.

Asked whether former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan had been shortlisted, he said: “I don’t think so. He is a senior member of our party … and I don’t consider him neutral.

“How could a person from a political party be neutral?”

The minister also referred to the commotion following reports of Finance Minister and PML-N leader Ishaq Dar’s name being proposed for the caretaker prime and said “since there has been stress that a “neutral” person should be appointed, the caretaker PM would not be from a political party”.

Sanaullah said the name of the caretaker PM was expected to be announced on Tuesday and Wednesday. “And just one name would be announced,” he added.

Consultations on caretaker PM

The minister’s revelation of today comes just three days before the date given by the government for the dissolution of the assemblies, following which a caretaker setup would take the country’s reins until a new government is elected.

Meanwhile, the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement coalition has upped the ante on consultations for the appointment of a “mutually agreed” name for the caretaker PM.

On Friday, Prime Minister Shehbaz chaired a virtual meeting of his allies on a three-point agenda — the dissolution of national and provincial assemblies, selection of caretaker PM and polls on the basis of the 2023 census.

At the meeting, some political parties were reported to have sought time to submit the names.

PML-N’s main ally, the PPP, has already given three names to the PM, according to a senior PPP leader who did not want to be named.

However, Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Balochistan National Party were yet to present their names, sources told Dawn.

MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Aslam Bhootani. — the two independent lawmakers part of the ruling coalition — have also given two and one names, respectively, Dawn has reported.

It is expected that PM Shehbaz will share the proposed names with his elder brother and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in London.

According to sources, the elder Sharif will finalise three names which the PM will share with Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz Ahmed.

Meanwhile, besides Shaikh and Jillani, other names reportedly being considered for the caretaker PM include ex-principal secretary to PM Fawad Hassan Fawad, ex- permanent representative to the UN Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pir of Pagaro Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi and former Punjab governor and PPP’s Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood.

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