— Khursheed Shah meets Abbasi, says govt should present budget only for next four months and let new govt present own budget
–PM and Opp leader to come up with a name for caretaker prime minister before May 16
–PM unlikely to dissolve govt one day before term ends
ISLAMABAD: Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah on Wednesday told Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that the outgoing government has “no right to present a budget for the upcoming fiscal year”, as the two leaders discussed the setup of the caretaker government and other important issues.
The incumbent government’s five-year tenure is set to expire on May 31 after which a caretaker government will take over for 60 days and oversee the general elections.
During the meeting, Shah advised the prime minister to present a budget only for next four months and to provide the next government with a chance to present a budget of its own will.
On the subject of the caretaker prime minister, the opposition leader told the media later that the matter will be decided after he and the prime minister discuss this issue with their allies.
He said that they’re trying to come up with a name for the caretaker prime minister before May 16.
However, sources told Pakistan Today that the name of former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, among others, was also mentioned as a probable candidate during the meeting.
The meeting also discussed internal affairs of the country, sessions in both houses of the parliament, implementation of law and law enforcement agencies.
Shah told reporters that he advised the prime minister to dissolve the government a day before the end of its tenure.
“If a government completes its tenure, the general elections are held in next 60 days, whereas if a government is dissolved even one day before completion of its tenure then general elections are held in next 90 days,” he said.
His suggestion was, however, rejected by the prime minister, who said that he would hold a session of the assembly even on last day of the government’s tenure, Shah further said.
Later in the day, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi also met with Khursheed Shah, at his chamber in the Parliament House to discuss the caretaker government and the political situation of the country. PTI leader Shireen Mazari was also present during the meeting.
Qureshi agreed that there is no logic in presenting a budget for an entire fiscal year when the government is set to dissolve before June.
The Constitution of Pakistan demands that the prime minister must appoint a caretaker for the post after consultation with the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly. A list of six candidates is then created, three from the prime minister and three from opposition leader but the final selection is based on consensus.
The prime responsibility of the caretaker government is to ensure that the elections are held in a clear manner.
Earlier on Tuesday, former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani had also expressed reservations over the government’s intention to present the federal budget for the next financial year.
By doing so, he had argued, the government would provide an opportunity to the caretaker set-up to prolong its tenure with a year’s fiscal budget already in its hands.
He had also wondered which hidden hand was compelling the government to go for this exercise when its term was to expire on May 31.
He had also pointed out that the Constitution provides that the interim government can have a budget for a period of up to four months approved. He said he was at a loss to understand why the PML-N was allowing this sword to permanently hang over the nation’s head.
Earlier this week, Khursheed Shah had said that the opposition has not yet decided on a candidate for the post of caretaker prime minister.
“I have not had any final discussion with opposition allies over the issue. They haven’t submitted a final name. My party has to meet and decide on a name as well. The government might submit a name too,” he had said.
“If the prime minister doesn’t accept the Senate chairman then he doesn’t accept the parliament,” he said while criticising Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz’s (PML-N) break with tradition.