Islamabad, July 23
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party is considering proposing the name of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for taking up the position of caretaker prime minister, a media report said on Sunday.
Dar's name came into focus as the Shehbaz Sharif-led government mulled changes in the Elections Act 2017 to empower the upcoming caretaker set-up to take decisions beyond its constitutional mandate, with a view to ensure continuity of the recently rolled out economic plan and expedite the process aimed at receiving foreign investment in state-owned entities, reported The Express Tribune.
The Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N) was considering proposing the name of Dar for the caretaker prime minister as part of a broader plan to ensure the implementation of the economic policies, sources were quoted as saying by the Express Tribune newspaper.
However, the final decision about the candidature of Dar will be taken next week in consultation with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) –- one of the two main coalition partners.
The PML-N sources said that the government was considering amending Section 230 of the Elections Act 2017, empowering the caretaker set-up to take economic decisions and the amendments might be introduced in the National Assembly next week to allow the caretaker government to take decisions necessary to revive the economy.
Pakistan's economy is passing through a phase where the matters cannot be left for three months on just day-to-day decision-making, a senior cabinet member said on the condition of anonymity.
He added in order to ensure that the IMF programme remains on track and the country completes the second review in November, there was a need that the caretaker government should have more powers to take decisions in economic matters.
According to Section 230, a caretaker (interim) government shall only perform its functions to attend to day-to-day matters which are necessary to run the affairs of the government.
It will assist the Election Commission of Pakistan in holding the general elections in accordance with law and restrict itself to activities that are of routine, non-controversial and urgent nature, in the public interest and can be reversed by a future elected government.
The present law also bars the caretaker government from taking major policy decisions, except on urgent matters.
It cannot enter into a major contract or undertaking if it is detrimental to the public interest, and it also cannot enter into major international negotiation with any foreign country or international agency; or sign or ratify any international binding instrument, except in an exceptional case.
The sources said that the proposal was to amend both the subsections of Section 230 that deal with the authority bestowed upon the interim set-up.
Neither Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar nor Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb responded to the requests for comments on the proposed amendments to the elections act.
In July 2018, the then-caretaker government wanted to enter into programme negotiations with the IMF, but the then-law minister opposed it on the grounds that the interim set-up did not have such powers.
The sources said that the implementation of all the measures would require the continuation of the current economic team.
They said that because of this reason, the PML-N top leadership wanted Finance Minister Dar to be appointed as the caretaker prime minister. In that case, Tariq Bajwa, special assistant to the PM on Finance, may continue working in his present position.
However, the Pakistan Peoples Party's endorsement was needed for this arrangement. There might also be objections to the political affiliation of Ishaq Dar.
If Dar is made the interim PM, he might not return in the next government as finance minister provided the current political dispensation makes a comeback.
The name of Hafeez Shaikh, former finance minister, has also been making the rounds for the position of caretaker prime minister, according to the report.
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