President Alvi and PM Shehbaz at odds over caretaker PM selection

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Tensions resurfaced between President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif on Friday, as President Alvi sent a letter to the premier requesting the appointment of a caretaker prime minister by Saturday.

According to, in response to the letter, PM Shehbaz expressed his displeasure and questioned the urgency of the president’s request, hinting that the president might not be fully familiar with the Constitution.

The reports said that the delay in naming a interim prime minister appeared to stem from differences within the opposition ranks.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader in the National Assembly Raja Riyaz, known as a “friendly opposition leader,” deviated from expectations and insisted on his own candidate rather than agreeing to names proposed by the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz), as reported by

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As per the media reports, PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif, conveyed through PM Shehbaz, favored former finance minister Ishaq Dar or former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for the role of caretaker prime minister.

On the other hand, Raja Riaz, a dissident from the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) with no party backing, allegedly aligned with a different power corridor and advocated for Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

Amid these developments, PM Shehbaz hosted a dinner for leaders of the outgoing ruling alliance and subsequently held further consultations with the opposition leader. Both leaders were set to meet again on Saturday to address the issue.

President Alvi’s Letter

Earlier, President Alvi formally requested PM Shehbaz and Riaz to propose a candidate for the caretaker prime minister role by Saturday. In his letter, Alvi referenced the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 9, highlighting the constitutional process for appointing a caretaker prime minister in consultation with the prime minister and leader of the opposition.

The reports said that Alvi directed the premier and Riaz to submit their proposed candidate’s name no later than August 12.

Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz expressed his displeasure with the president’s letter while assuring that the final decision on the caretaker premier would be reached on Saturday.

While talking to the media, he said that in case of a failure to agree on a single candidate, the matter would be referred to a parliamentary committee, which would aim to resolve it within three days. If consensus wasn’t reached at this level, the matter would be escalated to the Election Commission for a final decision within two days.

A senior PML-N senator emphasised the importance of avoiding political affiliations for the caretaker role to ensure transparency and fairness in the upcoming general elections. The senator noted that the Election Commission could reject nominations with political biases.

Other potential contenders for the caretaker prime minister role were listed, including Jilal Abbas Jilani, former finance ministers Dr. Hafeez Sheikh and Ishaq Dar, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad, former justice Tassaduq Jilani, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pir Pagaro, and Makhdoom Mehmood Ahmed.

Coalition’s Backing

At a dinner reception hosted by PM Shehbaz, the outgoing ruling parties granted him full authority to choose the caretaker premier nominee. Prominent attendees included Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman,  Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Khalid Magsi, and others.

According to, during the event, PM Shehbaz acknowledged the challenges of inflation due to international price hikes and encouraged parties to consider seat adjustments for the upcoming general elections.

Separately, the media reports indicated that PPP would accept the premier’s nominee for the caretaker role. Whereas, Sharif said that while he wasn’t sure about Sanjrani’s candidacy, coalition dynamics could influence the outcome.

Additionally, Jahangir Khan Tarin of the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) expressed support for Riaz’s candidate, considering them more suitable for the caretaker prime minister position.

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