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STRICTLY speaking, they are operating within the bounds of the constitution. But as our politicians try to pick a caretaker prime minister and chief ministers, they are only behaving in a way that undermines the democratic milestone within reach. Having held on for five years, they could have led the country into its first uninterrupted change of government in a way that inspired voters’ confidence and enthusiasm. Instead, the chaos and politicking of the last few days make them look like immature opportunists with no faith in their own kind.

One thing is quite clear: the preponderance of judges and bureaucrats among the nominees for caretaker prime minister indicate our politicians don’t think each other capable of credibility and impartiality. But even the process of selecting from among non-political names has become heavily politicised. The government revealed its choices very late in the game. Since then, the opposition and the ruling party have been publicly rejecting each other’s candidates rather than efficiently sorting out the issue behind closed doors, thereby increasing uncertainty among a population already living in perpetually volatile circumstances. The parliamentary-committee stage could be even worse; it has the potential to raise new controversies about which opposition parties get to be on the committee. Thankfully there does seem to be an acknowledgement that the matter is best resolved before it goes to the Election Commission of Pakistan, a result that would demonstrate the complete inability of politicians to deal with the responsibilities that have come with the strengthening of the democratic system.

With the exception of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, matters are even worse at the provincial level, with little apparent movement towards an interim set-up in Punjab and Sindh. The less said about Balochistan the better; as of this writing the way forward there was entirely unclear, with lack of clarity even about who the leader of the opposition is and whether the chief minister enjoyed a majority when the assembly was dissolved. Making this more frustrating is the fact that, under a newly empowered ECP, the caretaker chief executives will be little more than administrative heads in office for two months. And that the decisions about selecting them for the centre and for most of the provinces are essentially in the hands of two people, the president and the PML-N chief. Put these two realities together, and the inability to settle the issue is beginning to border on the ridiculous.

Comments (6) Closed

Shahid Mar 19, 2013 05:54am
There may be a lesson hidden in this ongoing tussle for the caretaker Prime Minister. Given the regional polarization that exists in the politics of our country, the next government is likely to be in the same quandary for days and week, so why not have a constitutional amendment to force the legislature to debate and accept a name before dissolution of the respective assemblies. This will shift the burden to the people, the process would be more transparent, as it should be, and give a freer hand to the Caretaker Executive to take fair administrative decisions. This will also allow the political leadership to absolve themselves of any direct responsibility if any decisions don
Bakka Mar 19, 2013 09:22am
Among these chaos will raise a leader that will unite Pakistan. Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth.
Gerry D'Cunha Mar 19, 2013 10:19am
ansar burney or sattar edhi would be the best interim pm
Iftikhar Husain Mar 19, 2013 11:34am
It seems the decision will eventually end in the court of election commission.
Khanm Mar 19, 2013 12:24pm
we We have been in chaos for last 65 years. Name one leader that united the nation. Name single opportunity for growth and creativity... bring the facts and figure
Rauf Kadri Mar 19, 2013 02:56pm
In an earlier Dawn letters to the editor, I had proposed some rules of the game for caretaker governments. It has been the history of caretaker governments in the country to act as more powerful than democratically elected governments. Given that presently there are no guidelines or constraints for caretaker governments, it is a myth to assume that they will be merely administrative heads working under the eye of the ECP. Due to vested political interests, a politician should be the least desirable choice for the caretaker government (CG). My earlier recommendations were: 1) The CG shall NOT make any major policy decision that is likely to commit an incoming government. 2) The CG shall NOT make any significant appointment (bureaucratic and public-sector). 3) The CG shall NOT enter into any major commercial contract or undertaking. 4) The CG shall NOT make any major international commitment. 5) Unless absolutely necessary, there shall be NO Presidential Ordinances during the tenure of the CG. Until such guidelines or rules are in place, let us not ridicule the present process of forming the Caretaker Government.