ISLAMABAD: There was a tie on Saturday, but a majority decision on Sunday. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) finally picked retired Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso as caretaker prime minister by a 4-1 majority.
Sources told Dawn that member of the commission from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa retired Justice Shahzad Akbar Khan who, along with member from Punjab retired Justice Riaz Kayani, favoured PML-N’s nominee retired Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, had been successfully persuaded by the chief election commissioner (CEC) to support what was going to be a majority decision even without his vote.
The CEC, it appears, wanted to send across a positive message about the retired judges working in the commission. This left Justice Kayani alone in questioning Mr Khoso’s credentials for the post of caretaker prime minister.
It was quite clear after two rounds of deliberations that Dr Ishrat Hussain and Rasool Bakhsh Palijo were out of the race and that the five members of the ECP would select one of the two retired judges nominated by the PPP and the PML-N.
The decision was taken by the commission at about 12 noon, much before the expiry of the deadline at midnight. The sources said most of the time had been consumed by efforts to make it a unanimous decision and persuade Justice Kayani to withdraw his note of dissent but he declined to change his position.
Announcing the decision, the CEC, retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, said the eight-member parliamentary committee had sent four names to the ECP and under the law it was to choose one in terms of article 224 (3) of the constitution.
He said the name could not be finalised on Saturday because of the absence of Sindh member retired Justice Roshan Essani who could not reach Islamabad from Karachi due to bad weather. Justice Essani arrived in the capital early Sunday morning.
Justice Ebrahim said he and three members — Justice Akbar Khan, Justice Essani and retired Justice Fazlur Rahman -- had voted in favour of Justice Khoso. Justice Kayani wrote a note of dissent.
“He was of the view that Justice Zahid should be appointed as caretaker prime minister,” the CEC said.
He said the decision had been made by a majority vote and was being notified. He expressed the hope that the caretaker prime minister would take all possible steps to hold free and fair elections.
Justice Khoso will take oath on Monday.
Talking to reporters on Sunday, Justice Khoso rejected a perception that the caretaker set-up was going to stay for more than the stipulated period and asserted that elections would be held on time. Holding fair and transparent elections was his top priority, he added.
He said his cabinet would comprise only 10 to 12 members which could include politicians.
He observed that elections were the only solution to problems faced by the country and said he would soon meet all political leaders.
About the law and order situation, he said it was the responsibility of the provinces and consultations would be held with them on the issue. He said he would quit if he failed to hold the elections on time.
ADVOCATE AND JUDGE: Justice Khoso was born on Sept 30, 1929, in the Azam Khan village of Balochistan’s Jaffarabad district.
He graduated from the University of Sindh in 1954 and did his LLB from the University of Karachi in 1956.
He joined the legal profession in 1957 and was enrolled as advocate of the High Court of the West Pakistan, Karachi bench, in 1959 and as advocate of the Supreme Court in 1980.
He was appointed additional judge of the Balochistan High Court on June 20, 1977, and made a permanent judge on March 31, 1987. He became the chief justice of BHC on Dec 13, 1989.
Justice Khoso served as acting governor of Balochistan from June 25 to July 12, 1990, and from March 13 to July 13, 1991. He retired as chief justice of the BHC on Sept 29, 1991.
He was appointed a judge of the Federal Shariat Court on Oct 18, 1991, and as its chief justice on Nov 17, 1992. He held this post till July 8, 1994.
Justice Khoso served as member of the ECP from June 1985 to Jan 17, 1986.