LAHORE  -  If caretaker prime minister Nasirul Mulk could claim until Tuesday that the cabinet he is heading is neutral, he could not make the same claim on Wednesday.

The reason: He got inducted in his cabinet a minister who cannot be called neutral. Mian Misbahur Rehman from Lahore is a leader of the PPP, is related to PML-N leader Pervaiz Malik and former judge Malik Muhammad Qayyum, and, above all, is ‘samdhi’ of sitting Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar.

His wife has also been a member of the parliament on PPP’s ticket.

Misbah has been playing host to Benazir Bhutto during her Lahore visits. His wife Yasmin is the sister of Pervaiz Malik (commerce minister in Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s cabinet) and ex-judge Malik Muhammad Qayyum (known for giving a judgment against Benazir under the alleged pressure from the Sharifs).

Misbah’s son is married to the daughter of Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The writer is not undermining the capability of Mian Misbah or questioning his honesty. The real objective is to say that his “political DNA” doesn’t match with an interim setup that is supposed to be absolutely neutral and give an even-handed treatment to all parties.

The timing of his induction is also very significant, especially because even today doubts about the elections being on schedule have not come to an end, caretakers assurances to the contrary notwithstanding. The interim setup has completed almost half of its constitutional life and is left with only a month or so to transfer power to those who get majority. Apparently, there was no need to increase the size of the cabinet - or more ministers should have been included on the very first day.

From the viewpoint of a common mortal, the CJP was not expected to allow any of his relatives, close or distant, to do anything that could provide anybody with an opportunity to raise a finger at his impartiality. And the kind of good job he has been doing for the good of the country required him to be more sensitive to his prestige.

Likewise, the caretaker prime minister, who also happens to be a former chief justice of Pakistan, was not expected to have agreed to the induction of a person who could provide his critics a justification to challenge his impartiality as a caretaker.

Although the suo motu notices taken by the CJP are in the best national interest and will help set the system right, his critics allege that he is targeting only the PML-N. The PML-N leaders have also repeatedly alleged that even the NAB is taking up only those cases which are against the Sharifs, turning a blind eye to other party leaders.

The NAB chairman, who is a former judge of the Supreme Court, denies this impression but he can’t stop the PML-N supporters from raising doubts about the impartiality of the anti-graft body.

NATIONAL GOVT: PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s ‘personal’ suggestion for the formation of a national government even if his party wins the July 25 election is also very important at this stage.

He told journalists in Karachi that Pakistan is facing the kind of challenges that it’s not possible for any party to grapple with them single-handedly.

The differences between the major political parties are so serious that apparently there is no hope for such an idea to materialise. And if the PML-N boss really wants this to happen, he should direct his party leaders not to use derogatory language against the PTI and PPP people. These leaders are not expected to share the table even after the election unless there is tolerance for one another.

As of now, the PTI thinks that it will get majority seats and be in a position to form its government without having to seek help from any other party. Some leaders insist that they would not join hands with other parties in any case.

PPP leader Asif Zardari is of the view that no party would be in a position to get majority seats and a coalition would become unavoidable.

The PML-N claims that it has done so much for the country during its five-year rule that compared to its rivals it stands a better chance of returning to power as a result of the July 25 election. However, nobody is in a position to make any prediction about the future role of the party, especially because it is taking on the judiciary, the establishment and the NAB at the same time.

Whether a coalition is formed or not after the election, the political parties should at least have tolerance for one another and use a civilised language.

 

An induction that dilutes neutrality of caretakers

 

ASHRAF MUMTAZ