Govt should elect interim PM in Nawaz’s absence, says former CJP

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ISLAMABAD: Former chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Saturday said an interim prime minster should be appointed during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s absence, warning of a “constitutional crisis” if such a move is not made.

The premier, who is in London for medical treatment, will undergo an open-heart surgery on the 31st and will likely remain hospitalised for at least a week.

“No one can perform the duties of the prime minster in his absence,” chief of the Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party said in a press conference in Islamabad.

Chaudhry went on to say that without approval of the prime minister, it was constitutionally impossible to finalise the budget since the rules of business clearly state “only the PM can approve and sign it”.

The former CJP said no notification was passed empowering Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to perform duties of the chief executive in absence of Nawaz.

“Any notification by the government regarding delegating powers of the prime minster to a minister will be unconstitutional as there is no such provision in the Constitution of the country,” Chaudhry maintained.

Electing an interim prime minster is the government’s only solution, he opined, adding that any other course of action would be a ‘violating of the constitution’.

“Any other member of the National Assembly from the ruling party can be made prime minster by a simple majority and no constitutional amendment is required in this regard,” Chaudhry pointed out.

‘Nawaz running affairs from London’

On the other hand, a statement issued from the PM’s office said Nawaz Sharif is “supervising all matters related to the country from London”, assisted by his principal secretary, military secretary and other staff.

The statement, however, goes on to add that “it is natural and understandable that the premier will not be performing his duties during his operation” but soon after the surgery, he will be supervising the state’s affairs “with the same spirit and energy”.

It further says that the premier’s family will bear all expenditure incurred on his treatment.

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