Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will meet opposition leader Raja Riaz on Saturday in a final attempt to agree on a name for a caretaker premier ahead of a general election, according to local news channel Geo News.
The chosen individual will form a cabinet and lead a government to guide the nuclear-armed nation through economic and political challenges until a new government is formed.
The deadline to reach an agreement on the candidate is midnight Saturday (1900 GMT), after which the matter goes to a parliamentary committee, and if that fails to agree on a name, then to the Election Commission to pick one from three names given by each side.
Riaz had given his list to Sharif, and vice versa, Geo News reported, citing sources, and the opposition leader had arrived at the prime minister’s house in Islamabad to discuss picking a name. The meeting will take place shortly, according to Geo.
This process could take up to five more days if an immediate agreement is not reached between the two on Saturday.
On Friday night, Pakistan’s president wrote to Sharif to remind him of the deadline following the dissolution of parliament earlier in the week.
“Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing National Assembly may propose a suitable person for appointment of caretaker Prime Minister not later than 12th August, 2023(before 2400 hrs),” said the letter shared on the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Under Pakistan’s constitution, a neutral caretaker government oversees national elections, which must be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the parliament’s lower house – which means early November.
The choice of the caretaker prime minister has assumed extraordinary importance this time because the candidate will have extra powers to make policy decisions on economic matters, and amid fears that the elections may be delayed by as much as six months.
The Election Commission has to draw fresh boundaries for hundreds of federal and provincial constituencies and, based on that, it will give an election date.