The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday appointed media mogul Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab after the ruling party and the opposition in the province failed to cobble together an interim set-up.
Names of four nominees were received by the electoral watchdog and reviewed in a session attended by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, and other members of the commission.
Naqvi's name was among the two put forward the ruling coalition in the province.
PTI chief Imran Khan had earlier said in an interview that his party would not accept the ruling coalition's nominees if the electoral body appoints either of them.
Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi is a journalist by profession. He was born in Lahore and moved to the US for higher education, where he was associated with the CNN and was made the regional head when he returned to Pakistan. He also interviewed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and, according to a report, Benazir had made her last call to Naqvi before her assassination.
At the age of 30, Naqvi founded a local media network in 2009 and now owns six news channels and a newspaper. He is also very popular in political circles and has strong relations with the leading political figures of the country.
The ECP's appointment comes after a parliamentary committee constituted by the Punjab Assembly speaker failed to build a consensus on a candidate for the slot of the caretaker chief minister.
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As per Article 224-A of the Constitution, the parliamentary panel had three days to select one of the four nominees. However, the committee was left with only one day due to a delay in the notification for the panel formation.
Both the ruling and opposition had nominated two names each.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had nominated Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera and Naveed Akram Cheema while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had proposed Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi and Ahad Khan Cheema.
Umar mocks PML-N’s nominees
Earlier today, PTI Secretary-General Asad Umar mocked PML-N's proposed names for the seat of the caretaker chief minister of Punjab.
“Better to lift the veil and appoint Nawaz Sharif or Asif Zardari than the frontman of imported [government] as caretaker chief minister,” he tweeted.
امپورٹڈ کے فرنٹ مین کو نگران وزیر اعلیٰ بنانے سے بہتر ہے پردہ اٹھا دیں اور نواز شریف یا آصف زرداری کو بنا دیں
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) January 22, 2023
The PTI, which has cast suspicion on ECP’s decisions in the past, had demanded that the commission appoint an “apolitical” person to the office.
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In an interview with a private TV channel, former premier and PTI chief Imran Khan had said that the party would not accept the ruling coalition's nominees if the electoral body appoints either Naqvi or Cheema as the caretaker chief executive of the province.
“We will not accept the decision of ECP in case they nominate someone controversial”-@ImranKhanPTI pic.twitter.com/KOpDGTC779
— PTI (@PTIofficial) January 21, 2023
The former ruling party's Senator Ali Zafar had also stated that if the “ECP did not fulfil its responsibilities, then the matter may go to court”.
The process to install a caretaker set-up in Punjab was set in motion after the provincial assembly was allowed to dissolve automatically as Governor Balighur Rehman refrained from giving his assent to Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi's dissolution advice.
Following the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly, Rehman had sent letters to CM Elahi and Leader of the Opposition Hamza Shehbaz for the appointment of a unanimous caretaker chief minister.