LAHORE: The speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Sibtain Khan, has established a bipartisan parliamentary committee to deliberate on the selection of a caretaker chief minister for Punjab.
The move comes after the incumbent chief minister, Parvez Elahi, and the leader of the opposition, Hamza Shehbaz, were unable to reach a consensus on a candidate for the position.
The committee includes members from both the government and the opposition and has been given three days to reach an agreement. If no agreement is reached, the decision will be left to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has proposed Adviser to the Prime Minister on Establishment Ahad Cheema and media mogul Mohsin Naqvi as potential candidates, while the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) have nominated Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera, Naseer Ahmed Khan, and Nasir Mahmood Khosa.
The committee was established following a directive from the Punjab governor, Baligh ur-Rehman.
On Wednesday, the party of former prime minister Imran Khan dissolved the assembly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it held majority seats. Its rival, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, criticised the move, saying it meant to deepen the political crisis and force early parliamentary elections.
The dissolution of the two parliaments will lead to snap elections in both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab — and may lead to the party being reelected in both provinces — but will unlikely effect any change on the national level.
The government of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) maintains that Khan’s tactics are damaging the country’s economy. Pakistan has struggled with the aftermath of unprecedented floods that devastated the country last summer and which experts say were exacerbated by climate change.
Pakistan is also facing a serious financial crisis and unabating militant violence.
As opposition leader, Khan has been campaigning for early elections and has claimed — without providing evidence — that his ouster last April in a no-confidence vote in Parliament was illegal.
He has also accused his successor, Shahbaz Sharif, the military and the United States of orchestrating his ouster. Sharif, army officials and Washington have all dismissed the allegations.
— With input from AP