A country’s most crucial and vulnerable time is the moment when its general elections are upcoming- when the previous government puts down its reigns and hands it over to the interim government to allow free and fair elections. Due to the difficulty and potential of abuse that can occur in conducting fair elections, this period often instigates heated reactions from politicians, and this year is no exception.

We have seen outbursts from the two most polarising figures in politics. Imran Khan rejected on Friday the tax amnesty scheme announced by the government. The PTI chief also called for setting up of caretaker governments both at the Centre and in the provinces that were “truly neutral” in character to allow for a conducive environment for fair elections.

Speaking almost in the same character, Nawaz Sharif expressed worry that the interim government, as well as the judiciary, should not implement any policy that would affect fundamentally the process of the elections. Nawaz said he would suggest to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to introduce a law or ordinance to suspend the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 before and during the caretaker government, to ensure that his party is not prosecuted or treated unfairly. This statement comes as a reaction to the NAB’s investigation of corruption allegations against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa PML-N President Ameer Muqam, two days earlier, for accumulating wealth and assets beyond his known sources of income, an investigation that Nawaz called “pre-poll rigging”.

The intentions of both sides meet here at least - the caretaker set up should be unbiased. The government must ensure - even if it is through some legislation of some sort - that the caretaker setup is only tasked with conducting the election in a timely manner and ensuring that the daily functions of the government continue during the transition; it should not be allowed to initiate new proceedings, legislate new laws or try to affect any change into the government setup - that is not its job. It may be neutral but it must also be seen to be neutral.

It must indeed be a strong point if the most antagonistic political leaders of the time agree on it. These elections mark the second time that a democratic government successfully hands down power to another-and we must do everything to ensure a fair and non-political interim government to see it through.