South Asia

Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif to hand over power to caretaker setup

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced on Thursday that his government will transfer power to an interim authority in August to oversee the general elections. In a televised address to the nation, Sharif assured that his administration has successfully dismantled the obstacles created by former Prime Minister Imran Khan to impede Pakistan’s interests.

“We will hand over this responsibility in August 2023 to the caretaker government,” he stated.

This recent statement by the Pakistan Prime Minister comes after his announcement the previous day that the term of Parliament would conclude on August 14, paving the way for an interim administration and elections. Shehbaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, who took office in April last year, emphasized that he had been entrusted with the “sacred responsibility” of governing the country as Prime Minister.

The appointment process for a caretaker government in Pakistan

The caretaker government in Pakistan is appointed once the outgoing Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition agree on a name. If they fail to reach a consensus, the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader submit their respective names to a bipartisan committee within a specified time frame.

If the committee is also unable to decide, the Election Commission of Pakistan receives the nominated names and selects one of them to serve as the Prime Minister. The caretaker Prime Minister then forms a Cabinet to manage the government’s affairs and relinquishes office as soon as the newly elected Prime Minister takes the oath of office.

Reports indicate that it is still unclear who will assume the role of caretaker leader, although political parties are engaged in discussions to reach a consensus. In his address, Sharif mentioned that his administration had made significant efforts to address the aftermath of the “destructive policies” left behind by his predecessor Khan within a span of just 15 months.

Pakistan’s General Elections were originally scheduled to take place later this year. However, with the announcement of the PM’s handover, the national elections will be held sooner than anticipated.

The Sharif-led government has yet to announce the date for dissolving the national assembly. As per the Government of Pakistan, once the assembly is dissolved, the caretaker government must conduct elections for a new government within 60 days. If the dissolution occurs shortly before the completion of the term, the new elections must be held within 90 days.

Shehbaz Sharif assumed office in April 2022 after a coalition of parties removed former PM and PTI chairman Imran Khan through a parliamentary vote of no confidence. Sharif’s term will come to an end in mid-August.

Pakistan is currently facing a critical need for a stable government due to its ongoing economic crisis. The political turmoil resulting from the removal of Imran Khan led to widespread violence across the country. Furthermore, devastating floods have further exacerbated the country’s debt burden.

Pakistan recently secured a last-minute loan from the International Monetary Fund just hours before its $6.7 billion loan program was set to expire, preventing a potential debt default.