Appointment of Punjab caretaker CM: ECP steps in after committee’s failure

— Primary competition is expected to be between Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera, head of the civil service, and Mohsin Naqvi, a media mogul rumoured to be close to former president Asif Zardari

LAHORE: The process for appointing a caretaker chief minister of Punjab, a crucial step ahead of the forthcoming general elections in the province, has been handed over to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the parliamentary committee failed to reach a consensus.

The tribunal will hold a consultative meeting to decide on the nominee, with a decision expected to be announced within the next two days.

The alliance of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) had suggested Naveed Akram Cheema and Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera, both civil servants, while the opposition tabled the names of Mohsin Naqvi, media mogul, and Ahad Cheema, former civil servant.

However, Cheema, the nominee of outgoing chief minister Pervaiz Elahi, refused to be part of the caretaker setup reportedly after being contacted by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

This latest development highlights the ongoing political wrangling in Pakistan, and raises concerns about the ability of the ECP to ensure a fair and transparent election process.

The appointment of a caretaker chief minister is crucial to maintaining stability and continuity in the run-up to the elections, and it will be important for the ECP to make a decision that is seen as impartial and acceptable to all parties.

In 2018, the ECP had nominated Hassan Askari, a professor of politics at Punjab University, to lead the caretaker setup in the province before the election.

The Punjab Assembly dissolved on Thursday as per the Constitution, 48 hours after the chief minister forwarded the summary of dissolution, regardless of the governor’s decision.

A snap local election will be held in the province after Elahi, the chief minister and an ally of former prime minister Imran Khan, triggered the poll, putting pressure on the government ahead of the general election.

Holding local elections in a province with 110 million people, around half of Pakistan’s population, would be an expensive, logistically complicated exercise for a government dependant on foreign aid and reeling from the impact of last year’s devastating floods.

By bringing forward a local poll, political analysts say it could pressure the national government into holding a countrywide election earlier to avoid the huge double cost of two votes.

Khan has been demanding general elections since he was ousted in April after losing a parliamentary vote of confidence. He has also led nationwide protests against his successor, Shehbaz Sharif.

— With Reuters


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