The task ahead


The caretakers need to get down to business

Now that the caretaker setup has been installed at both the centre and the federating units, the task ahead, holding of elections culminating in country’s first democratic transition, needs to be addressed. But in politics one must be as skeptical as possible. Though the responsibility of the caretaker setup is not more than just ensuring free and fair elections, along with the usual day to day government work, yet the higher moral ground attached with the setup to deliver results requires them not only to be proficient at what they have to do but also appear to be free from bias, prejudice or partiality to any one party.

Much to their credit, the politicians did come up with a consensus in appointing two interim chief ministers, former Justice Tariq Pervez in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai in Balochistan, both of them non-controversial and trusted by almost everyone across the political aisle. However, things have not been that smooth in Punjab and Sindh. The appointment of Justice (retd) Zahid Kurban Alavi as caretaker chief minister in Sindh raises quite a few eyebrows. MQM, after remaining in power for five years, suddenly jumped to the opposition benches and thus was able to manoeuvre the appointment of caretaker CM. Consequently, the caretaker CM in Sindh faces an uphill task of proving his impartiality along with holding the elections on time. Moreover, the interior Sindh has also seen some turbulence over the appointment because of alienation among the PPP’s file and ranks about giving the MQM too much leeway. However it is up to the caretaker CM to prove that this choice was not wrong.

In Punjab, Najam Sethi has been appointed as caretaker CM. His appointment has its takers and naysayers. He has already served in another caretaker cabinet way back when the PPP’s government was dethroned in 1996 and President Leghari oversaw the transition with the sole aim of hounding the ousted prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Later, when the N League took over power in 1997, it proceeded to prosecute Najam Sethi under treason charges for declaring Pakistan a failed state at a seminar in New Delhi.

Being on good terms with the top leadership of both parties have made him an acceptable candidate for the PPP and the PML-N. The mere fact that the politicians were able to settle this issue among themselves and needed no outside force to intervene, is a remarkable feat in itself.

For the caretakers, though, the situation is not rosy. Considering law and order situation across the country, particularly violence against minorities and sectarian violence, their task has gained much greater importance. This should not however stop them from doing their job, even better would it be if it were done in a befitting manner.