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Analysis: Your next caretaker PM and how he is most likely to be named

May 10, 2018

PML-N will agree to any PPP name

By Murtaza Solangi

We have only twenty days or so till this National Assembly will wrap up, by Thursday, May 31. But before that we will need to know who the new caretaker prime minister will be. How will this name be decided and when?

On the front end, the name has to be decided by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah. But at the back end, the powerful security Establishment, political actors and internal and external lobbies will play a role.

Remember the acrimony of the 2013 elections when the caretaker PM had to be finally decided by then chairman of the Election Commission Fakhruddin G Ebrahim. The PM and Leader of the Opposition, and later a parliamentary committee were unable to agree at that point.

This time around, the PML-N government is dead set against letting this decision go to the Election Commission as it fears the security Establishment playing a role there. “We won’t let the ball move to the ECP,” said an influential federal minister, who requested not to be named. “We have decided to accept any name suggested by Mr [Khursheed] Shah.”

But what if Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah (of the PPP) recommends a name that comes from the quarters you fear most, I asked the minister. How will you escape this nightmare?

“We want the PPP to take responsibility for their recommendation,” replied the minister. “We will practice the pottery shop principle: You break it, you buy it. So if the country and democracy falls in a ditch, because of their recommendation, the PPP has to take the responsibility.”

The announcement for caretaker PM is expected next week. There are a few names floating around for the top slot. But it is the name of former State Bank Governor Dr Ishrat Husain that rides the crest with a few names such as former chief justice Tassaduq Jilani in tow.

Why Dr Ishrat Husain? He is acceptable to both the powerful Establishment as well as the PPP. Some quarters in the PML-N view his name with suspicion because of his old association with Pervez Musharraf. But his strong economic background makes him more acceptable than others as troubled economic times lie ahead.

So come Friday, June 1, you may see Mr Husain wearing a sherwani and Mr Mamnoon Hussain administering him the oath to serve as Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister for the next two months.


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