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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 530, 21 January 2023

Election Commission to choose Chief Minister as Punjab fails to build consensus



Why did the parliamentary committee delay its decision?

Bhoomika Sesharaj

On 21 January, the six-member committee and the opposition party had 24 hours to decide the nominations for the post of the caretaker chief minister made by outgoing chief minister Parvez Elahi and opposition leader  Hamza Shehbaz but failed to reach a consensus on a candidate. This comes as the parliamentary panel had nearly three days to choose one of the four nominees but delayed the decision. The matter was issued to the  Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and was challenged by the ruling alliance’s leaders, who said that they would “move a court of law” if any “controversial person” was selected by the commission from the panel of the four nominees. 

One of the opposition’s representatives said that both the nominations made by Parvez Elahi “failed” to meet the requirements laid down by the constitution and that one of the nominees, Cabinet Division Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera, was a dual national, and was “disqualified” to become a public officeholder. Responding to the government’s threat to the ECP, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the ECP chief would make the caretaker “setup” and that the PTI-Q league alliance would “have to accept” the decision. Additionally, he remarked that the ECP would not only form the government but would also “hold elections” to the Punjab Assembly before the general elections in 2023. 

Why was there a delay?
On 21 January, the ruling alliance had primarily proposed previous Punjab chief secretary Nasir Mahmood Khosa, Cabinet Division Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera and Naseer Khan as potential candidates for the post. But, the notification which was issued on 20 January for the commencement of the meeting reduced the nominations from three to two and added another to the race as well, namely, Sukhera and Naveed Akram Cheema, who was a former chief secretary. The committee said that they would “make a decision” which was “acceptable” to the public and that they were “stuck” on two names and that they would send all the names to the ECP so that “the matter could be decided.”

The opposition objected to the failure of the committee to reach a consensus on the matter and said that the candidates sent by the PTI-PML-Q alliance were illegible and held “without a debate.” The opposition rejected Elahi’s claims and said that they would approach the Supreme Court if the matter went to the ECP and that the committee “lacked confidence.” 

This comes as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and the opposition on 20 January decided to appoint former leader Mohammad Azam Khan as the caretaker chief minister and asked the governor to “proceed” with their decision. Khan said that there is a “serious problem” of “insecurity” and inflation in the province and that they would stop the country from going into “further despair.”

References
Amjad Mahmood, “ECP to pick CM as Punjab fails to reach consensus,” Dawn, 21 January 2023
Adnan Sheikh, “Parliamentary committee fails to reach consensus on appointment of Punjab caretaker CM,” Dawn, 20 January 2023
Arif Hayat, “KP govt, opposition pick Azam Khan as caretaker CM,” Dawn, 20 January 2023
 

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