The best care-taker government is the least government, which leaves all the controversies and troubles for the next administration. Constitutionally, the caretaker government’s sole mandate is to conduct general elections and only take those decisions that are necessary for running the state’s affairs on a day-to-day basis. It is highly important for the unelected government to uphold its limited mandate and restrict its governing to ensure the fairness and validity of the upcoming elections.
Unfortunately this appears to be a memo that the current care-taker government did not get. The recent decision of the government, to call for a meeting of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) is yet another example of the government exceeding its constitutional mandate. The meeting has been called to approve about one-and-a-half dozen development projects that cost Rs709 billion, which include controversial projects like Kachhi Canal, that are plagued with accusations of corruption.
There is no constitutional authority for the care-taker government to take such decisive action, nor will any good come out of it. Such a decision by unelected officials, taken without proper consideration and at the right end of its tenure, could forcefully bind the future representative government to financial obligations. Not only is it unwise to leave such precedents of overreach by an interim government, it is ineffective also. The government may think it is contributing to progression of development but for successful execution of such major projects, there needs to be trust and continuity- qualities that a government expiring in a week is unlikely to inspire.
This is not the first allegation of overreach that has been levelled at the care-taker government. Previously, the care-taker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, and Chief Minister Hasan Askari, were criticised for the overreaching security protocol adopted on July 13th, the day of Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan. Moreover, the government has been further criticised for blatant bias against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), seen in the way PML-N rallies have been clamped down upon, PML-N leaders needlessly arrested merely for protesting and curtailing of the party’s campaign. If the care-taker government is not carrying out these steps of bias, it is neglecting its duty of ensuring a fair election by allowing them.
While this step of planning a CDWP meeting seems harmless, it sets a precedent of unelected officials exercising power beyond their domain-a most dangerous path to carve, and one which hurts the validity of the elections.