ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Thursday rejected the Election Commission’s decision naming Dr Hasan Askari as caretaker Punjab chief minister.
In a press conference held hours after the ECP chose Dr Askari for the interim slot, PML-N leaders voiced their reservations over his selection and called on the Commission to review its decision.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was succeeded by Justice (retd) Nasirul Mulk as the caretaker premier last Friday, said Dr Askari’s appointment as the caretaker Punjab CM would cast doubt over transparency in the upcoming general election.
Abbasi, accompanied by Saad Rafique, Ahsan Iqbal, Khurram Dastgir, Rana Sanaullah among other party leaders, said Dr Askari was an ardent critic of the PML-N and that his partiality was evident in the views he expressed in his articles and news programmes.
“It is unfortunate that the ECP chose [Askari for the position]. The PML-N will reject the election results if he is made caretaker chief minister of Punjab,” he said.
The former prime minister, brandishing an article penned down by Askari years ago, said that his articles show his partiality against the PML-N.
Abbasi lamented that the names proposed by the PML-N for the caretaker Punjab CM slot were of individuals with good reputation whose neutrality was well-established.
Speaking to Geo News earlier today, Rana Sanaullah said Dr Askari is very vocal against PML-N and has always targeted their party.
“He does not believe in democracy and cannot be expected to ensure work is done on merit and without bias,” the PML-N leader added.
The former law minister further said, “We have issued a written statement over reservations on Dr Askari’s appointment and we can challenge it.”
The ECP earlier today nominated Dr Hasan Askari as caretaker Punjab chief minister after a parliamentary committee failed to reach a consensus over the proposed candidates. According to the ECP, the government had suggested Justice (retd) Sair Ali and Admiral (retd) M Zakaullah’s names for the post, while the opposition had suggested names of Ayaz Amir and Dr Hasan Askari.
Rejecting the PML-N's objections, ECP spokesman Altaf Khan told Geo News that the Commission works on merit and is under no pressure.
The decision to name Dr Hasan Askari was unanimous, the spokesman added.
Speaking in Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath, former prime minister said that not only his party but other mainstream political parties of the country have huge reservations against the appointment of DrAskari as the caretaker chief minister Punjab.
"Our party has reservations, other parties can have reservations too. Hasan Askari should excuse himself from taking the post to avoid making the polls controversial. "
PM Abbasi said that Dr Askari should display his 'moral sense'.
"Every person has right to have an opinion but not every person has right to be a caretaker cm. Time such now demands a completely non-controversial person for the position," he said.
PM Abbasi said that Dr Askari in one of the article has written that there is no issue in delaying the polls.
"We don't want any person who holds such views. We don't want a person who says such stuff. We want to have a person who says if the polls are not held on time he will resign," he opined.
The former premier raised doubts over the transparency of elections if Dr Askari is appointed as the caretaker chief minister.
Dr Hasan Askari is a renowned political scientist and military analyst who is currently serving as professor emeritus of political science at his alma mater, Punjab University.
He served as a visiting professor of Pakistan Studies at Columbia University from January 1996 to July 1999, and as the Allama Iqbal Professor at Heidelberg University of Germany from 1988 to 1991.
In 2010, the professor was awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz.
He has published a number of books, including Military, State and Society in Pakistan and The Military and Politics in Pakistan: 1947 – 1997, among others.