ISLAMABAD - The ruling PPP is actively short-listing names of two probable candidates the Prime Minister has to nominate for the appointment as caretaker Prime Minister, sources said on Thursday.

Well-placed sources confided to TheNation that the ruling party was actively considering a list of four probables from the categories of technocrats and politicians that would be taken up to finalize considering to opt for two at a crucial party meeting to be held here today. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would preside the meeting to be attended by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, former PM Gilani and other senior party leaders to discuss and shortlist two names. These names would be conveyed to President Asif Ali Zardari. Some sources also said that Zardari might also participate in the meeting. Although there was no official confirmation of the names under consideration of the ruling party, some knowledgeable insiders maintained that names of two technocrats including a Karachi-based business tycoon and former finance minister Dr. Hafeez Sheikh were under active consideration.

The sources were of the opinion that technocrats were the hot choice of the party for the slot of caretaker prime minister because of the major economic challenges confronting the country.

Similarly they believed that names of Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Nawabzada Ghazanfar Gul from Gujrat (from the politician category) were under active consideration.

According to the sources, the party leadership would recommend these names to President Zardari to pick two out of four and try to secure nod of the PPP's coalition partners including PML-Q and ANP to make them consensus candidates of the ruling alliance.

The ruling party has opted for two categories to pick the names of probable after the President recently made it clear to all and sundry that none of the categories including retired generals and judges would be considered for the slot of caretaker prime minister. The move could stir up sharp reaction and would be in total contrast to the list unveiled by the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Ch. Nisar Ali Khan and supported by several political parties including the PML-N. The Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly has been hinting at various names including three retired judges of the Supreme Court including Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zaid, former Chief Justice Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui and Justice Shakirullah Jan to be nominated for the slot. The PML-N on its own has also backed the candidature of Mahmood Khan Achakzai.

Both the Leader of the House and Leader of Opposition would endeavour to pick one out of four nominees with consensus, and in case both the leaders failed the matter would be referred to a parliamentary committee to decide about the care taker prime minister. And even if the parliamentary committee failed to decide the issue with consensus the matter would be automatically go to Chief Election Commissioner to appoint any one of the list of four probables as caretaker prime minister.