Pakistan leaders seek deal on caretaker PM ahead of election

Pakistan's PM addresses the 23rd SCO Summit, hosted virtually by India, in Islamabad

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, addresses the 23rd Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, hosted virtually by India, in Islamabad, Pakistan July 4, 2023. Press Information Department (PID)/Handout via REUTERS/file photo

ISLAMABAD, Aug 10 (Reuters) – Pakistan’s outgoing prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, and the leader of the opposition will meet again on Friday to try to pick a caretaker leader to oversee a general election due by November, the premier’s office said.

Sharif and opposition leader Raja Riaz held a first round of talks on Thursday afternoon, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

The two leaders decided to meet again on Friday to continue deliberations on candidates for the position proposed by both men, it said.

“We’ve yet to reach a consensus,” Riaz told reporters after leaving Prime Minister House in Islamabad.

Under the constitution, the two have three days to reach agreement on a caretaker leader. If they can’t, the decision will go to a parliamentary committee, and if it can’t agree, then the Election Commission of Pakistan will decide.

The lower house of parliament was dissolved on Wednesday, three days before the end of its five-year term on Aug. 12.

A general election in the South Asian country of 241 million people should be held in 90 days but it could be delayed for several months because the election commission has to redraw the boundaries of hundreds of constituencies based on a new census data.

Any delay could fuel public anger and add to uncertainty in the nuclear-armed country, analysts say.

Sharif led a coalition government of nearly a dozen parties after they voted out his predecessor, Imran Khan, whose party won the last election in 2018, in a no-confidence vote in parliament last year.

The former cricket star has been at the heart of months of political turmoil since he was ousted, raising new worries about stability. He has since been jailed in connection with a graft case and has, as a result, been barred from taking part in an election for five years.

Reporting by Asif Shahzad; editing by Robert Birsel and Toby Chopra

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Shahzad is an accomplished media professional, with over two decades of experience. He primarily reports out of Pakistan, Afghanistan regions, with a great interest and an extensive knowledge of Asia. He also reports on politics, economy, finance, business, commodities, Islamist militancy, human rights

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