No consensus on dissolving all provincial assemblies: Shahbaz

Lahore: The main opposition PML-N party on Saturday said there was no consensus between it and the Pakistan People's Party on dissolving all provincial assemblies on the same day a measure necessary for holding national and provincial polls simultaneously.

Senior PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif, who is also the Chief Minister of Punjab, announced the party's stance at a news conference in Lahore this evening.

He said there was no consensus between the federal and Punjab government on dissolving the assemblies on March 19.

"We have consensus of holding the elections to the national and provincial assemblies on the same day but could not reach an agreement on dissolving the provincial assemblies on the same day," Sharif said hours after he and other provincial Chief Ministers met Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in Islamabad to discuss the upcoming polls.

A statement issued by the premier's office said the Chief Ministers had agreed in principle that the polls would be held on the same day, thereby implying there was an understanding on dissolving the assemblies on the same day.

Analysts said Sharif's remarks were part of the PML-N's efforts to pressure the PPP on the issue of choosing a caretaker Prime Minister who will supervise the polls.

Even as Sharif claimed that there was no consensus on dissolving the provincial assemblies, Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani said Sharif had agreed to dissolve the Punjab Assembly on March 19 during the meeting with the premier.

Sharif further said the PPP should appointable and "clean" persons as caretaker Chief Ministers in Sindh and Balochistan.

The PPP and PML-N had failed to develop consensus on the caretaker premier, he said. "If there is no consensus (on the caretaker Prime Minister) between the government and opposition, then the Election Commission will decide the matter," he said.

Earlier, the PPP and PML-N had reached an accord on dissolving the national and provincial assemblies on the same day.

However, the PML-N subsequently linked the dissolution of Punjab Assembly with taking it on board in finalising the caretaker Chief Ministers for Sindh and Balochistan provinces, where the party has a negligible presence.

Unlike the other provincial assemblies, the Punjab Assembly will complete its five-year tenure on April 9.