Embattled Pakistani leader Imran Khan yesterday nominated former chief justice Gulzar Ahmed for the office of caretaker prime minister, as the top court adjourned without deciding on the legality of Khan’s actions in blocking an opposition attempt to oust him.
Former information minister and senior leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party Fawad Chaudhry said that Khan made the decision after approval from the party’s core committee.
The announcement comes after President Arif Alvi sent letters to Khan and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif yesterday seeking suggestions for the appointment of a caretaker prime minister.
“In response to the President’s letter, after consultation and approval by the PTI Core Committee, Prime Minister Imran Khan has nominated Pakistan’s former chief justice Gulzar Ahmed for the post of caretaker Prime Minister,” Chaudhry said.
In his letter, President Alvi told them in case they do not agree on the appointment within three days of the dissolution of the Parliament, they shall forward two nominees each to a committee to be constituted by the Speaker, comprising eight members of the outgoing assembly, or the Senate, or both, having equal representation from the treasury and the opposition, reports The Dawn online.
The Constitution has empowered the president to appoint a caretaker prime minister in consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the outgoing National Assembly, the President’s Secretariat said in a statement.
Imran Khan is supposed to continue as Prime Minister until a caretaker premier is appointed, according to the notification issued by President Alvi.
Meanwhile, Shehbaz Sharif said that he would not take part in the process and termed it “illegal”, saying that the President and Khan had broken the law and questioned how they could approach the opposition, reports NDTV online.
Reacting to Sharif’s decision, outgoing information minister Fawad Chaudhry said: “Pakistan is gearing up for the elections… Shehbaz has said he will not be a part of the process, that’s his choice.
“We have sent two names (to the president) today. If (Shehbaz) does not send the names within seven days, one of these will be finalised”.
Earlier in the day, the Cabinet Secretariat issued a notification stating that Khan had “ceased to hold the office of the prime minister of Pakistan with immediate effect”.
However, under Article 94 of the Constitution, the president “may ask the Prime Minister to continue to hold office until his successor enters upon the office of Prime Minister”.
“Mr Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi, shall continue as Prime Minister till the appointment of caretaker Prime Minister under Article 224 A (4) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the President said on Twitter.
President Alvi had dissolved the National Assembly (NA) on the advice of Prime Minister Khan, minutes after Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri rejected a no-confidence motion against the premier, who had effectively lost the majority in the 342-member lower house of Parliament.
Simultaneously, Khan asked the presidency — a largely ceremonial office held by a loyalist — to dissolve the assembly, meaning an election must be held within 90 days.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, after taking a suo motu cognizance of the political situation in the country, said that all orders and actions initiated by the Prime Minister and the President regarding the dissolution of the National Assembly will be subject to the court’s order as he adjourned for one day the hearing of the high-profile case.
A three-member bench held the initial hearing and issued notices to all the respondents, including President Alvi and Deputy Speaker of the NA Suri.
The Supreme Court also ordered all parties not to take any “unconstitutional” measures and adjourned the hearing until yesterday.
The opposition has challenged Khan’s decision in the legal case that began yesterday, with a five-member Supreme Court bench hearing arguments in a packed courtroom.
The court failed to come to a verdict during the three-hour hearing and will return today.
Ahsan Bhoon, President, Supreme Court Bar, said that the action of the prime minister and deputy speaker was against the constitution and “they should be prosecuted for treason under Article 6 of the constitution”.