NA, cabinet dissolved; 'deadlock' on appointment of caretaker PM persists
17 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People's Party-led federal government on Saturday completed its full term in office, in a significant first by a democratically elected government in the history of the nation.
A 'deadlock' between government and the opposition on the appointment of caretaker prime minister persisted as Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs notified dissolution of the 13th National Assembly on completion of its five-year constitutional term midnight Saturday.
"In pursuance of Article 52 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the National Assembly stands dissolved on the expiration of its term of five years on the 16th day of March 2013," the notification said.
The 13th National Assembly of Pakistan was sworn in on March 17, 2008.
The around 70-member cabinet ceased to exist as soon the assembly was dissolved. However, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will remain in office for a few days until the appointment of an interim prime minister.
The matter of appointment of the head of caretaker government was likely to be referred to an eight-member government-opposition joint parliamentary committee after Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, so far, failed to choose from among the names proposed by both the leaders.
The government has already nominated Farooq H Naek and Khursheed Shah from PPP, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour from ANP and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain from PML-Q to sit in the committee. The opposition PML-N is also likely to announce its names for the committee by today. Both prime minister and the opposition leader will send their proposed names for the slot of caretaker prime minister as well as the parliamentary committee to the National Assembly speaker if they failed to reach consensus. The speaker will constitute the committee which would have three days to finalise a name from among the proposed ones, failing which the matter will be sent to Election Commission of Pakistan to unilaterally announce head of the interim government within two days.
The nomination of interim prime minister can't be delayed beyond March 24 – with March 19 deadline for the prime minister and the opposition leader to agree on a name; March 22 for the parliamentary committee to announce its decision; and March 24 for the election commission to eventually install a caretaker head.
The election commission has recommended polling on May 8, 9 or 10, but President Asif Zardari is yet to announce a date for the elections.
The outgoing National Assembly has witnessed many a first in the country's turbulent history. It is the first-ever democratically elected National Assembly that has completed its full five-year tenure, paving the way for a democratic handover of power to next elected government. The assembly completed Golden Jubilee of sessions by meeting 50 times during the last five years and remained in session for record 665 days. The House passed 134 bills and around 85 resolutions during its tenure. It was also the first assembly to elect a woman speaker. President Asif Zardari delivered five annual addresses to the joint sittings of parliament. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, military leadership gave briefings to the civilian parliamentary leadership and took it into confidence on important strategic issues.
Though President Zardari's wheeler-dealer ability to keep the ruling coalition intact; General Kiyani's determination to keep military away from politics and opposition's unwillingness to force early elections helped democracy prevail in Pakistan, huge challenges of a deteriorating security, a worsening economy and a simmering Balochistan await the next elected dispensation.