Govt’s letter to speaker influenced talks

ISLAMABAD: A tussle persisted between the PPP and the PML-N in meetings of the parliamentary committee for selecting the caretaker prime minister after the former submitted a letter to National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, raising objections on all four members representing the opposition in the eight-member bipartisan committee.

According to sources, an unfriendly atmosphere prevailed in the committee’s first meeting on Wednesday when both sides accused each other of partiality. Before beginning of the proceedings of the committee, the government side took a step ahead and submitted the letter to the office of the speaker.

“The letter said it was for the first time in the history of the country that rather than representing the joint opposition, all members from its side had been chosen from one party, the PML-N,” the sources told media on Thursday. A member of the committee confirmed existence of the letter, but he was reluctant to comment on it.

The committee’s members from the PML-N expressed displeasure over the letter and refused to attend the meeting, which begun on Wednesday. In retaliation, they also raised objections over the members representing the ruling coalition, saying that all of them were toeing the line of the PPP.

The PML-Q chief, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, pacified the opposition members and withdrew the letter, the source said.
During the first day’s proceedings the two sides set the criteria under which nominees for the post of caretaker prime minister would be examined. It was done on Naek’s suggestion.

The sources said that the PML-N team wanted discussion on the nominees from the outset, but the government side insisted that the formal discussion should be held on Thursday.

Former religious affairs minister Khurshid Shah was of the opinion that discussion should begin on the second candidates from the two sides — retired Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso and Rasul Baksh Palijo. However, despite the wrangling in the committee, sources said backchannel effort was under way between the PPP and the PML-N to nominate a consensus caretaker prime minister and there was a possibility that they might agree on a name before the matter went to the Election Commission of Pakistan.