LAHORE / QUETTA: The caretaker chief ministers of Punjab and Balochistan took the oath of their office on Friday, with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz boycotting the oath-taking ceremony of interim Chief Minister of Punjab Dr Hassan Askari.
Neither the party’s president Shahbaz Sharif nor any other leader attended the oath-taking ceremony at the Governor House in Lahore. Governor Rafiq Rajwana administered the oath to Dr Askari after they held a meeting.
During his interaction with journalists after taking the oath, caretaker Chief Minister of Balochistan Allauddin Marri did not rule out the possibility of delay in elections.
Dr Askari did not talk to the media at the oath-taking ceremony. But, in a statement issued later, he said that holding free and fair elections was his top priority and responsibility.
He promised a level-playing field for all by ensuring that the administration played an impartial role during the election process.
Caretaker CM of Balochistan says country won’t face destabilisation if elections are delayed for two weeks
He said his mandate was to hold transparent elections and that he would perform this obligation as a duty while all necessary resources would be utilised for holding the general elections in a peaceful and transparent manner.
“I know my obligations and every effort will be made to perform the duty in the best possible manner,” Dr Askari said.
A smartly turned police contingent presented him a guard of honour on his arrival at the Chief Minister’s Office after taking the oath of his office.
Later, Dr Askari held meetings with officers and other staff members at the Chief Minister’s Office.
He has reportedly declined to shift his residence to 7-Club Road in the Government Officers Residence-1 on The Mall, the official residence for the CM.
Balochistan caretaker CM
Meanwhile, caretaker Chief Minister of Balochistan Allauddin Marri said that he had no political agenda except ensuring free, fair and transparent elections in the province.
Speaking at his first press conference after taking the oath of his office in Quetta on Friday, he said, in reply to a question, that he was in favour of timely elections, but “if a genuine reason emerges for its delay, like extremely hot weather with temperature rising up to 53 degrees Celsius, the country will not face destabilisation if elections are delayed for two weeks”.
The caretaker chief minister recalled that the Balochistan Assembly had adopted a resolution seeking delay in the elections.
Earlier, Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai administrated the oath to Mr Marri at a ceremony held at the Governor House. Former chief minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, former provincial ministers, Chief Secretary Aurangzeb Haq and Inspector General of Police Moazzam Jah Ansari were prominent among the participants.
Asked about political parties’ reservations over delimitation of new constituencies, Mr Marri said: “Even I am confused on delimitation and many election candidates are not aware of the areas falling in their constituencies.”
He urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to “define new delimitations” and settle legal cases on delimitations so that the country could smoothly move towards elections.
Mr Marri said he was not associated with any political party and had never been involved in politics in the past. “I have good relations with leaders of different political parties, but I have no political ambition and my prime responsibility is to lead the province towards fair, free, transparent and peaceful elections in due time,” he said.
Replying to a question, he said that he planned to form a small cabinet to run the affairs of the province for two months.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2018