The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) chose Justice (r) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso to head the caretaker administration, out of the four nominees, two each from the outgoing government and the opposition, at its meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (r) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim on Sunday. That should put an end to the uncertainty that had surrounded him and other nominees. As it is well known, the ball, as required under the constitution, automatically came to the court of the ECP after the failure of government and opposition and, later, of the parliamentary committee to agree on any one of the candidates. That the selection has been widely welcomed, including by PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif whose party had earlier opposed him, is a happy sign and reflects a sense of maturity and confidence that the ECP enjoys.

The nation hopes and expects that both Justice Khoso and the ECP would ensure that the general elections scheduled for May 11 are free, fair and transparent and all obstacles in the way are removed so as to create an appropriate atmosphere for the purpose. In his brief remarks to the media Justice Khoso said that free and fair elections would be his top priority. It was his sincere resolve to see the polls under his charge to be memorable in their fairness and transparency. He would meet different political parties to assure them that he would be absolutely non-partisan, maintaining that disagreement was inherent in a democratic polity. He would choose a small team as his cabinet colleagues. Every effort would be made to ensure that the law and order situation remained normal, though it was the responsibility of provincial government. One would wish Justice Khoso, who hails from Balochistan, all success in the short period of time he is assigned to run the country.

Although there are lots of issues demanding urgent resolution, for him the most important, as Justice Khoso has himself said, is to set the stage for the conduct of fair elections and that by itself is no small job. The rest, equally formidable but demanding much longish period to tackle, should be left to the setup that comes into power after the polls. Hopefully, working with the ECP he would be able to achieve the goal. The ECP, on its part, faces a daunting challenge in weeding out the shady characters and allowing only those candidates to stand for elections who come up to the standard laid down in articles 62 and 63 of the constitution. As things stand, the Sword of Damocles hangs on the heads of not a few political hopefuls. And the fear is that, as the ECP would be stepping on sensitive toes, it would come under intense pressure from influential quarters. That would be a real test for Justice Ebrahim as well as his colleagues. Under these trying circumstances, if caretaker Prime Minister Justice Khoso, acting jointly with CEC Justice Ebrahim and his team, is able realise the dream of free, fair and transparent polls, they would go down in history for this memorable act.