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Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar named caretaker Sindh CM

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Leader of the Opposition in the dissolved Sindh Assembly Rana Ansar on Monday night reached a consensus on the appointment of Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar as the interim CM.

Justice Baqar’s name was proposed by the ruling PPP for the interim CM’s slot.

Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab, who was also the Sindh government spokesperson, confirmed that there was agreement on Baqar’s name.

MQM had no issue with the selection of Maqbool Baqar’s name for the interim chief minister position. Ansar, the opposition leader, spoke at a press conference outside the CM Office, stating that reaching a consensus on a suitable name takes time. She expressed satisfaction that Maqbool Baqar’s name had been chosen after mutual consultation. Ansar, a member of the MQM, mentioned that she did not object to Baqar’s name.

During the press conference, Ansar also addressed the timing of the decision, noting that the deadline was approaching and that they had managed to finalize the selection before the August 14 cutoff. She explained that her delay in arriving at the CM House was due to heavy traffic caused by the August 14 events.

Following Ansar’s comments, Wahab, the former Sindh government spokesperson, confirmed that both the CM and the opposition leader had sent their letter regarding Baqar’s selection to the governor. Wahab mentioned that the new interim chief minister would determine when to take the oath and emphasized the importance of fair elections in line with the Constitution.

Justice (retd) Baqar, the chosen interim chief minister, expressed his commitment to upholding the law and the Constitution and pledged to support the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in conducting elections. He stressed the responsibility of holding elections and resolving people’s issues during challenging times.

The process of appointing an interim chief minister was also explained. Ansar and CM Murad came to an agreement on proposing Baqar’s name just before the three-day deadline after the assembly dissolution. According to the law, a caretaker setup is required once the assembly is dissolved. Even without the governor’s approval, the assembly dissolves within 48 hours of signing the summary.

The chief minister contacts the opposition leader within 48 hours of assembly dissolution, seeking three names for the caretaker chief minister and suggesting three names themselves. If a deadlock occurs, the matter goes to the Sindh Assembly speaker and eventually to the ECP for a decision. However, since Ansar and CM Murad reached an agreement, the issue will not be referred to the speaker or the ECP.

The selected nominee will serve as interim CM until a new government is elected. The ECP is mandated to conduct general elections within 90 days, with a timeframe of 22 to 45 days for polls and 29 to 30 days for election campaigning.

Contrary to practices in other countries, the Pakistani Constitution mandates a caretaker government until a new government is elected. Article 224 of the Constitution outlines the process for appointing a caretaker government.

Until Justice Baqar’s oath-taking, CM Murad will continue his duties for a brief period. The incumbent Sindh Assembly Speaker, Agha Siraj Durrani, will remain in his position until newly-elected lawmakers take their oath and elect a replacement.

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