KARACHI - The prime concern of all political parties vying for power is who will be the caretaker prime minister and they want some neutral and non-partisan figure for this slot, but each party wants to have a person of its own choice.
PML-N which is a leading contender in the run for power has already given its choice, proposing the names of Justice (r) Nasir Aslam Zahid, Justice (e) Shakir Ullah Jan and veteran nationalist leader Rasool Bakhsh Palejo for the caretaker prime minister.
PML-N suggested the name of Rasool Bakhsh Palejo to stun the political stakeholders. Palejo, a veteran nationalist and an outspoken supporter of provincial autonomy, has strong links with certain political circles of the Punjab, who have been supporting him, political analysts believe.
They say Palejo is also an uncle of President Asif Zardari as he was a close friend of his late father Hakim Ali Zardari when both were working in NDP and NAP with Wali Khan. Palejo has also remained a supporter of Seraiki province.
Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira termed the names proposed by PML-N for the caretaker prime minister a political joke. He said PML-N itself had been criticising Palejo whose name is among the three candidates proposed for the slot of the caretaker PM.
Welcoming the proposal, Awami Tehreek Chief Palejo said he was thankful to those who had proposed his name and vowed to make Pakistan an ideal state just in 90 days by uprooting terrorists’ network and giving a permanent solution to the Karachi law and order problem.
However, the progressive nationalist forces of Sindh are of the view that the move of PML-N is aimed at telling the nationalists that the party has soft gesture towards the smaller provinces.
A segment of the progressive nationalist force, during an interaction, was of the view that PML-N did not seem serious as Palejo’s name was placed at number three and that the Punjab-based party had tried to test the worth of Sindhis nationalists.
They were more surprised on reaction of Palejo as if he seemed ready to join the politics of establishment any time. Palejo was not feeling well, but after the proposal was floated he travelled to Sukkur next morning and gave a public appearance at the bar association. They say Nawaz Sharif is not serious, but octogenarian Palejo is more than serious, observers argue.
They say by keeping Palejo in the panel of would-be caretaker prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif is trying to gain political clout in Sindh. He knows Palejo is a respected nationalist leader, but he is not the only leader to lead the nationalists. Other nationalist leaders of Sindh are viewing the proposal with doubt.
On the other hand, progressive nationalists hold Palejo in high esteem because of the struggle of the veteran nationalist leader for the rights of Sindh, but what is disappointing is that Palejo has shown eagerness to work under President Zardari as the caretaker PM. Palejo has accused the president of having sold the interests of the motherland, Sindh. Moreover, Sindh Governor Ishrat-ul-Ebad will also work with Palejo in the caretaker setup. Independent analysts say Palejo is known for his stance against Urdu-speaking people. He always dubbed those who migrated to Pakistan in 1947 as ‘terrorists.’ In a number of TV talk shows, he called Biharis killers of Bengalis.
Does Nawaz Sharif really mean to nominate Palejo? Many observers doubt as in that case president and prime minister both will be from Sindh.
A man like Mehmood Achakzai who has been in the parliamentary politics for three decades and has also worked with Nawaz Sharif and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto has been ignored. Achakzai’s name was not proposed because it is thought that the establishment did not clear his name.
The people sitting on the fence in urban areas termed the move of PML-N to propose Palejo’s name an attempt to foment hatred between rural and urban areas and to rub salt in the wounds of Urdu-speaking people.