Pakistan Election Commission to pick caretaker Prime Minister

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 22, 2013 22:35 hrs

Islamabad: The task of choosing a caretaker Prime Minister to conduct Pakistan's general election was today entrusted to the Election Commission after a bipartisan parliamentary committee was unable to achieve consensus on a candidate.

The parliamentary panel, comprising four members nominated by the Pakistan People's Party and its allies and four members from the main opposition PML-N, remained deadlocked after three days of negotiations.

Emerging from a meeting at the parliament building tonight, the members of the committee said the Election Commission would now choose the head of the interim administration.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the head of the PML-Q, told reporters: "For the first time in Pakistan's history, politicians got a chance to make a political decision by politicians but I have to say with great sadness that we could not do so."

Other members of the committee, including former Law Minister Farooq Naek and senior PML-N leaders Sardar Mehtab Khan Abbasi and Khwaja Saad Rafique, said the names of four candidates would now be forwarded to the Election Commission, which will choose the caretaker premier.

Abbasi acknowledged that the two sides had been unable to achieve consensus on any of the four candidates, including banker Ishrat Hussain and retired judge Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, who were nominated by the PPP, and politician Rasool Baksh Palejo and retired judge Nasir Aslam Zahid, who were proposed by the PML-N.

"It is the constitutional duty of the Election Commission to choose a caretaker Prime Minister," said Abbasi.

Earlier, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan were unable to choose a caretaker premier within the stipulated three days.

The matter was then entrusted to the parliamentary panel.

The Election Commission has till Sunday to choose the caretaker premier who will conduct the general election to be held on May 11.

The polls will mark the first democratic transition in Pakistan's 66-year history.

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