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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Asia

Who offered deputy PM post to Imran?

Dawn/ANN | Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Imran Khan addresses supporters during an anti-government protest in front of the Parliament in Islamabad on August 27, 2014.

Hours after the conclusion of the 'final round' of talks between his party's representatives and the government, Mr Khan told the participants of the sit-in that he had rejected an offer to become the deputy prime minister, terming it an effort to bribe him.

Political observers wonder whether the government has made such an offer to the PTI chief during the talks or he has simply made the announcement in response to media reports throughout the day that a senior member of the ruling PML-N had written a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, suggesting him to appoint a deputy prime minister in consultation with the PTI.

Dr Arif Alvi, a member of the PTI's negotiating team, claimed that such a proposal had been made by one of the members of the government team in a "casual way".

"Yes, one of them said that we can create the post of deputy prime minister, if you want, but no-one took it seriously and there was no further discussion on it," he said.

In reply to a question, Mr Alvi said that he did not even remember who had made these remarks in the meeting. He termed the offer 'impracticable', saying that how can Mr Khan or any other PTI man function as deputy of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif whose resignation was the party's main demand.

The PTI leader said he had come to know that such a proposal had been under discussion within the PML-N and a ruling party legislator had floated this idea.

Despite repeated attempts, no member of the government negotiating team could be contacted for comment.

Mr Alvi's statement, however, indicates that Imran Khan had perhaps made this claim on the basis of a letter written by Senior Vice President of the PML-N, Senator Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal, to the prime minister suggesting him "options available in the prevailing political scenario".

In his letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, Mr Iqbal had suggested that a post of the deputy prime minister should be created to resolve the political standoff and to pacify the protesting PTI.

The PML-N leader has proposed holding of a referendum on the proposals floated by Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri to bring major changes in the Constitution.

It was due to the ambiguous language of the letter that media reported that Mr Iqbal had proposed to the prime minister to appoint any PTI man as the deputy prime minister, prompting the PML-N leader to issue a clarification.

Senator Jaffar Iqbal in his clarification claimed that he had clearly suggested in the letter that the deputy PM should be from the ruling PML-N. However, the letter shows that he has not specifically mentioned that the proposed deputy PM should be from within the party.

"A post of deputy prime minister may be created by introducing appropriate amendments in the Rules of Business, 1973, as it happened during the previous government to secure the confidence and trust of the PTI regarding credible assistance to the inquiry commission which will be constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, as already requested," reads the letter.

It further says: "(The) prime minister may nominate three persons from amongst the members of parliament to be appointed as deputy prime minister in consultation with PTI leadership or the PTI leadership may be requested to give three names amongst whom one will be appointed as deputy prime minister by the prime minister."

Mr Iqbal, who had served as deputy speaker in the previous Nawaz Sharif government, has suggested that "the deputy prime minister may perform the functions to assist the inquiry commission appointed by the Supreme Court conducting inquiry regarding rigging allegations; look after establishment matters regarding assistance to the inquiry commission for making postings, transfers and issuing appropriate instructions to officers who are assisting the commission; assist in reconstitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan and to coordinate with Ministry of Law and Justice, Parliamentary Affairs and the Election Commission of Pakistan regarding necessary assistance to the inquiry commission as well as to the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms".

Mr Iqbal also proposed fresh elections after dissolution of the assembly, if rigging is proved by the commission.

"If no rigging is proved, the post of deputy PM may be abolished and process regarding electoral reforms will be continued by the government," he writes in the letter.

He has also suggested that PAT be engaged within the provisions of the Constitution and its demands may be submitted through a referendum to the general public.

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