ECP to decide K-P’s caretaker chief minister

Assembly speaker writes to chief election commissioner after parliamentary panel fails to reach consensus


Sohail Khattak June 05, 2018
K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser sent a letter to the chief election commissioner requesting him to appoint a caretaker chief minister. PHOTO: INP/FILE

PESHAWAR: Having failed to settle on a name, the provincial assembly has decided to leave the fate of the caretaker chief minister in the hands of the top poll body.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly on Monday officially forwarded the names of four nominees for the slot of the caretaker chief minister to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to pick one.

In this regard, K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser sent a letter to the chief election commissioner Justice (Retired) Sardar Raza Khan, requesting him to appoint a caretaker chief minister under clause-3 of Article-224A of the Constitution.

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The letter carries the names of four candidates for the slot which have been nominated by the opposition and the government.

Among the nominees, the opposition Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has proposed the names of Manzoor Khan Afridi and Justice (retd) Dost Muhammad. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from the government’s side has suggested the names of former bureaucrats Himayatullah Khan and Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi.

The letter maintains that a parliamentary committee, constituted by the Leader of the Opposition in the provincial assembly Maulana Lutfur Rahman and K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, for finalising a name for the slot failed to do so. Hence, in line with constitutional provisions, the matter has been referred to the ECP for a final decision.

The top poll body now has two days to finalise a name for the caretaker set-up in the province.

The matter came to a head even before the K-P Assembly had completed its tenure late last month.

Following deliberations, the PTI and JUI-F had apparently agreed on a name for the caretaker chief minister — Afridi.  A picture was also released showing Afridi sitting with PTI Chairman Imran Khan and the K-P chief minister, in what was a signal for the upcoming official notification.

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However, in the penultimate session of the K-P Assembly on May 27, the decision came under fire after opposition parties in the provincial assembly accused both Khattak and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman of taking money from Afridi — who is a relative of business tycoon Javed Afridi.

This forced the PTI and the JUI-F to backtrack from Afridi’s name and to hunt for new candidates for the slot.

PTI proposed the names of two retired bureaucrats, while the JUI-F insisted on Afridi’s selection. Sources say that Afridi is on good terms with Fazl.

Having failed to decide on a name in either the mutual consultations or in the parliamentary committee — which has equal representation from the ruling and the opposition party and met for three days — the ECP will now have to decide the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2018.

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