President Arif Alvi late on Wednesday night signed a summary moved by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif seeking the early dissolution of the National Assembly, bringing to an end the tenure of Parliament that was elected into office in 2018.
“The president dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of the prime minister under Article 58(1) of the Constitution,” read an official statement issued by the President’s Office on X, formerly known as Twitter. As a consequence, the federal cabinet also stands dissolved after the completion of the National Assembly’s 5-year constitutional term.
Following the dissolution of the National Assembly, efforts are underway to appoint a caretaker prime minister under Article 224(A) of the Constitution. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz was due to hold consultations with P.M. Sharif to finalize the name of the interim prime minister on Wednesday, but deferred the meeting due to other engagements. The meeting is now scheduled to take place today.
Under law, both leaders will share three names each for the coveted slot. They would then have three days to agree on a name, failing which the matter would go to a parliamentary committee for the appointment of caretaker P.M. If the committee also fails to achieve consensus within three days, the matter would be placed before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for a final decision, within two days, on who would serve as the interim premier.
Ahead of Riaz and Sharif’s meeting, several names have been floated for the potential interim prime minister. The position is especially relevant right now, as the chosen candidate would likely oversee the country for a minimum of six months following the previous government’s approval of the digital census in a meeting of the Council of Common Interests. Following the approval, the ECP is required to conduct fresh delimitation for all constituencies before the country can proceed to polls.
The list of potential candidates for the slot of caretaker prime minister currently includes former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani; former finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh; former finance minister Ishaq Dar; former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi; former principal secretary to the P.M. Fawad Hassan Fawad; former chief justice Tassaduq Jilani; Abdullah Hussain Haroon; Pir Pagaro; and Makhdoom Mehmood Ahmed. Until a caretaker prime minister has been appointed, Sharif would continue to work as the prime minister.
Both the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies have been dissolved since January and are already under caretaker setups. Sindh and Balochistan, however, have yet to be dissolved and would complete their constitutional tenures next week.