• Opposition leader rejects Dar for caretaker PM, says immediate elections ‘not necessary’

    Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Raja Riaz File photo Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Raja Riaz

    Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Raja Riaz on Tuesday opposed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s initially rumoured but now quashed candidature for caretaker prime minister’s role, and also downplayed the need of immediate elections in the country.

    The tenure of the National Assembly is set to expire on August 12 and meetings are under way between the members of the government on the details of an interim set-up.

    If the government is dissolved before the National Assembly completes its term on August 12, elections would be held within the next 90 days. If the assembly completes its tenure, the Election Commission of Pakistan is bound to hold polls within the next 60 days.

    Earlier this week, reports emerged of Dar as a possible candidate for the caretaker prime minister’s slot. However, the PML-N a day ago appeared to be back-pedalling on the idea, apparently in the wake of its outright rejection by both its ally PPP and the opposition PTI.

    “The elections will not be held for two years if Ishaq Dar becomes the interim prime minister,” said Riaz, who is a member of the parliament on PTI’s ticket despite severing ties with the party and openly acknowledging that he would contest the next elections on PML-N’s ticket.

    Riaz said no one would accept the validity of the general polls if they were held under Dar as the caretaker premier, adding that Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had also given a “clear stance” on the issue.

    “The PML-N should reveal a name or run it on the media. There is no need for me to consult on it. As the opposition leader, I have to give my three names. I will meet the prime minister by August 1 on the caretaker government issue,” he said.

    Riaz said he would soon initiate the consultation process regarding the nominee for the caretaker prime minister, saying that he had meetings scheduled on Wednesday or Thursday with other opposition leaders on the issue.

    “An economist should be the caretaker prime minister,” he added.

    Riaz was also dismissive of the need of elections within its constitutional timeframe upon the current assembly’s early dissolution or tenure expiration.

    “Elections are not necessary in the country,” he said adding that it did not matter if general elections were not held even for a decade.

    “The problems of the country and the people are more important. The solution to the challenges faced at this time is most important,” the opposition leader asserted.

    Riaz was appointed as the opposition leader in May 2022 after being nominated by NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf.

    He was part of a group of PTI dissidents who had chosen to stay in the National Assembly even as other party MNAs had resigned at the directions of the party chairman.