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Wednesday, February 28, 2024  
17 Shaban 1445  

Caretaker PM: Opposition leader expects meeting with Shehbaz around August 1

ECP official says they will hold polls on October 11 if assemblies are dissolved on August 12

Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Raja Riaz was expected to meet Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif around August 1 to consult on the candidates for the caretaker PM ahead of the general elections.

He told Independent Urdu on Thursday. “My meeting with the prime minister is expected around August 1 where we will exchange names for the caretaker prime minister. A meeting or two more will be held to decide whether we agree on a name.”

The leader of the House and the opposition leader as per rules are required to consult for the names of the interim prime minister. Both sides suggest three names for the top slot. In case, they don’t agree the matter would be referred to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Though the discussion on the dissolution of assemblies started earlier this month, it was increased after Prime Minister said on Sunday that his government would hand over the power to an interim setup before the completion of its tenure in August. There were also reports that PPP and PML-N have decided to dissolve the National Assembly on August 8.

But Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb played down the reports, saying no decision had been made.

“The election commission will select a name from the six proposed by us, which is according to rules and regulations,” he said.

Riaz told the media outlet that a group comprising the party’s dissidents would also be formed.

When asked whether the PTI-Parliamentarians he said: “All of them are contacting us but we are around 22 people who will decide on this matter mutually. We will start holding meetings regarding this from August 1.”

The assemblies would dissolve on August 8 – four days before the end of their term on August 12 – he added that as per the information available to him.

ECP all set to hold polls

The country’s top electoral authority was ready for elections, whether they were held within 60 days or 90 days, said an official on Thursday.

“We will hold elections on October 11 if assemblies are dissolved on August 12,” ECP special secretary Zafar Iqbal told reporters in an informal chat at the central office.

The statement comes as the ruling coalition leaders hold discussions on the date of dissolving assemblies and the leaders for the caretaker setup.

The five-year term of the National Assembly started under the then-PTI government on August 12, 2018. But the former ruling party moved to the other side of the aisle after the ex-prime minister was ousted through a no-trust vote. Now the assembly tenure will be completed under a PM-Shehbaz-led ruling coalition.

ECP secretary Omar Hamid Khan the commission was prepared to simultaneously hold “fair, transparent, and impartial” elections in the country. “But if the new census is approved, then four months will be required for the delimitation of constituencies.”

When asked about the issuance of election symbols to PTI, the ECP secretary said that the issue of PTI foreign funding was under hearing in the court and refused to say anything regarding the issuance of election symbols.

Political Finance Wing DG Masood Sherwani was of the view that according to the law, every politician was obliged to submit his assets to the commission.

Earlier this week, Sindh Chief Minister said that all forces wanted timely elections, which he added was better for the country.

The ruling coalition has maintained that the caretaker government tenure cannot extend as it was “not possible” amid rumours of extension to seek IMF funds.

ECP approves over Rs42b

The Economic Coordination Committee has approved Rs42.528 billion for the ECP as a technical supplementary grant.

The approval was granted at a meeting of ECC held in Islamabad with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the chair.

The committee also approved an Rs200 million rupees technical supplementary grant for the Special Investment Facilitation Council.

The huddle also accorded approval to summaries of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting regarding charging electricity rates to Cinema Houses and the Ministry of Commerce regarding the export of vegetable ghee and cooking oil from export processing zones to Afghanistan through land routes.

It also approved revised cess rates for tobacco for the year 2023-24.

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Ishaq Dar

Shehbaz Sharif

ECP

general elections

Prime Minister

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