ISLAMABAD: As the political forces because of their incompetence and usual political bickering are preparing grounds for the formation of an interim, national government for a longer period, a hunt has already been started for the next caretaker prime minister.
Those constitutionally assigned — the prime minister and the leader of the opposition — to nominate the caretaker prime minister may not be in the knowledge of things, Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmad has already been approached by someone “important” with the request that he should not refuse if offered to become the caretaker prime minister. Informed sources said that a “retired officer” recently approached Wajih with the advice that he should not decline if offered the assignment of the caretaker prime minister. These sources said that the respected retired judge, however, did not make any commitment.
Who will make the offer and who is behind this hunt is not clear as yet, these developments synchronize with the demand of those seeking early elections or predicting that before the March 2018 Senate elections, the present government has to leave. Otherwise, if the present government completes its term, the caretaker set-up will be in place in early June next year to hold the general elections in August 2018.
It is yet to be seen if the present government will be made to leave before its term, however the chances of on-time elections are becoming blurred owing to the Senate’s failure. The developing situation, if not corrected by parliament as early as possible, will pave the way for the formation of a caretaker government for a longer period. Such a caretaker government could be given a national look. The News of late reported that in case of delay in the next year general elections owing to the census-related complications that the legislature has failed to address so far, there is no constitutional solution available to decide whether to extend the tenure of the present parliament or that of the caretaker government.
Informed ECP sources had told The News that the census result was bound to delay the next year elections if the proposed constitutional solution pending before parliament was not approved at the earliest. In such a scenario, these sources said that the Supreme Court will be the only authority to decide whether to extend the term of the present government and parliament or that of the caretaker government, which otherwise will have 60 to 90 days tenure.
The ECP is confronted with a situation where the census was held with timing close to the next general elections. The Constitution does not hold any answer to such a situation where elections are to be delayed for want of delimitation and re-allocation of NA seats to provinces on the basis of last notified census.
While the ECP is really worried about the emerging situation, the government and the opposition, particularly the PPP, appear divided on the issue of carrying out required constitutional amendments for holding the next year elections on time. The National Assembly has though passed the constitutional amendment, it is not getting through the Senate because of unavailability of the required number (two thirds majority) of members.
On 29th August last, the ECP had drawn the Law Ministry’s attention to the constitutional questions raised by the census 2017 vis-a-vis the timely holding of the next year elections. However, initially the government acted belatedly and later the opposition parties, despite having passed the amendment from the NA, are not showing any keenness for early passage of the same constitutional amendment from the Senate. Some of the PML-N leaders have been complaining recently that unknown telephone calls had a role in preventing many MPs from voting for this constitutional amendment.
Originally published in