ISLAMABAD: The PML-N did raise its serious objections to Dr Hasan Askari’s appointment as caretaker Chief Minister at the level of Punjab Assembly’s committee meeting but these objections were never conveyed to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Sources said that the Punjab Assembly Secretariat had only sent to the ECP the names of four contenders - Admiral (R) Muhammad Zakaullah and Justice (R) Muhammad Sair Ali, the two nominees of the former chief minister, and Professor Hasan Askari Rizvi and Ayaz Amir, the two nominees of the Opposition Leader Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed.
Minutes of the committee meeting, which held on June 6, were not sent to the ECP owing which the commission was in no position to get to know the objections of the PML-N to Askari. Only after the ECP finalised and announced the name of Askari as caretaker chief minister, the PML-N spoke in public against the appointment and rejected it on the pretext that Askari was biased.
At the committee level, it is learnt, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed had withdrawn the name of Ayaz Amir but insisted on the appointment of Askari as caretaker Chief Minister.
According to the sources, Rana Sanaullah told the committee that Ayaz Amir was evidently biased against the PML-N government and had written numerous articles against the then government. In addition, Rana alleged that he had criminal history.
On this Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed withdrew Ayaz Amir’s name and requested the committee to accept the nomination of Prof Hasan Askari. In response to this, Rana Sanaullah said that Dr Askari was biased against the PML-N and had expressed his anti-PML-N views on TV talk shows.
Rana added that Askari also had no political experience nor had he held any public office. Rana Sanaullah said that Askari even often supported martial law in his analysis.
Another member of the PML-N and former spokesman of the Punjab government Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan also endorsed the viewpoint of Rana that Askari was not a neutral person.
Muhammad Sibtain Khan, ex-MPA, however, said that the caretaker chief minister was to be appointed for only about 45 days, so nominee of the opposition be appointed as caretaker chief minister.
Initially while introducing his nominees, Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed read out the brief profiles of Ayaz and Askari and said that both had the reputation of non-partisan and had vast experience in their respective fields.
Mian opposed the nomination of Admiral (R) Zaka, saying that he had no experience in civil affairs.
No negative comment as such was expressed against any of the two nominees of the former chief minister.
The ECP, however, with a unanimous vote decided in favour of Askari. The ECP decision is believed to be a political one as even some in the Election Commission did not expect Askari to get the approval as against the two non-controversial and neutral nominees of the then government.
and members of the Commission, which led to the appointment of PTI’s nominee as caretaker CM.