It is rather commendable that Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah have reached a consensus on the selection of the caretaker PM. There were a lot of speculations regarding the final choice as most of the names being suggested were those of highly qualified individuals. The greater responsibility was choosing someone who would be able to continue with the policies in place and helping with smooth preparations for the next general elections.
The fact that the matter was not extended to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and dealt by the parliamentarians themselves saves up a lot of time for the caretaker setup to be put in place. This selection marks the end of the second democratic tenure coming to an end, which is a significant moment in the history of a country plagued by civil-military tensions. Both the mainstream parties involved in this decision-making process realised – albeit after much contention and brinkmanship - - the sensitivity of the time period before the elections; it is a time at which political upheaval cannot be afforded. Hence, it was very important to choose the right person for the role.
Former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Nasir ul Mulk is the good fit for the role. His composed stance during his time as the Chief Justice of Pakistan from July 2014 to August 2015, as well as his dogged stance on the timely devolution of power to the local level through local elections, earned him reputation as a principled and efficient official. In the charged environment of the upcoming elections, such qualities are necessary – especially from the person tasked with administering the caretaker government.
The interim setup is a crucial time for any government before a new occupants come in place. It is important to maintain a chaos-free political scene during this time to ensure that all systems run smoothly and no significant policy changes are made to disrupt the process of free and fair elections.
The next few weeks will be a test for the caretaker setup. The tensions between mainstream parties will increase as they pace up the canvassing. Former Justice Nisar ul Mulk will be under tremendous scrutiny as well as pressure. It is hoped that a he brings to bear the sense of fairness and justice that inculcated after a career in the judiciary.