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Keep calm and pick a PM

Published Mar 19, 2013 12:05pm


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-Illustration by Mahjabeen Mankani.
-Illustration by Mahjabeen Mankani.

How often does dialogue solve anything in Pakistan? No, this is not a question meant to make you think about the war on terrorism or sectarian violence – this is in regards to the noise coming out of our politicians who are once again taking us for a ride, promising to find a way to nominate a caretaker PM for us as they make their way out.

Why is it this hard? A caretaker PM has to oversee the elections and ensure that the ECP remains within the Constitution as the polling process begins. However, the government and the opposition have been failing miserably thus far when it comes to short-listing and nominating candidates. Whether the dispute is over the fact that there exists no person who can be mutually trusted for this post or whether either side is not allowing itself to accommodate a candidate not nominated by them – the situation remains deplorable.

After leaving every institution of this country in shambles, the government may have caused the chants of ‘Democracy! Democracy!’ to soften up a bit but in no way has it killed them altogether. The country still remains keen to see the democratic process continue and a more honest and clean leadership to emerge soon. The battle of the consensus and clashing egos, however, is not really helping motivate voters who are cautiously waiting to exercise their right. Aptly pointed out by an editorial in Dawn today: 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.

‘No faith in their own kind’ seems rather obvious as we see names of judges and bureaucrats emerge as nominees – perhaps, we aren’t the only ones who don’t trust our politicians anymore. Still, it’s rather surprising that both sides could not think of a single name that seemed impartial and/or credible? Ever since the government revealed its choices, a public mockery is being made of this process as the ruling party and opposition continue to openly reject each other’s choices. But this lot of politicians who over the past five years did not even refrain from talking about their opponents’ private lives on television during a heated debate, how can we expect them to solve this dispute respectfully and discreetly.

Coming back to the possibility of nominating a candidate through dialogue, it appears unlikely that the issue will be resolved at the level of the outgoing prime minister and the leader of the opposition. What seems likely at this point is the decision being made by the parliamentary committee which could complicate things even further. New controversies and debates could crop up about which opposition parties get to be on the committee.

The PPP has already sent the names of PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, PPP leaders Farooq H. Naek and Khurshid Shah, and ANP leader Ghulam Ahmed Bilour to the speaker as its members for the parliamentary committee. The PML-N, however, is yet to send the names to the speaker. The next question that comes to mind with this is, will the opposition want a purely PML-N representation? The lack of JUI-F’s participation in the parliamentary committee could then mean that the committee may either not be formed or simply face rejection – not to mention, the deeper rifts that could emerge through this decision between the PML-N and the JUI-F who is already pretty disgruntled.

That could then lead us towards Article 224-A, where the decision would lie with the election commission, which would have only two days to choose from the shortened list of candidates (two each from either side). According to the constitutional timeline, March 24 is the final deadline.

With so much to do and such excitement that this process could exude, we instead shake our heads once again watching politicians argue and scream on television, justifying rather absurdly, why the decision of the caretaker can’t be taken care of. The politicians are once again allowing anti-democratic forces to reiterate their belief that democracy won’t work for this nation. Meanwhile, millions of others who have either come of voting age now, or have finally found a clean(ish) party to believe in, are waiting anxiously to rid this country of the leaders it does not deserve and instead bring in new ones who hopefully won’t dismay them as much. But once again, it seems as if our politicians are so accustomed to creating hurdles that even when there exists none, they start working overtime just to build them.


The writer is the Deputy Editor at


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Comments (13) Closed

raika45 Mar 19, 2013 12:51pm
How about an interim body of of notable people say 4 of them overseeing the running of the government.The Police,civil service,judiciary and state bodies run as usual. No interference.They just have to oversee the running of the government.They cannot change the rules or impose their own.Like in Malaysia when the government calls for elections things run as usual with no problems.The people understand the situation and no problems occur.Of course in Pakistan things are different.Most probably trouble creators are waiting.The bane of Pakistan is that loyalty to the country is the last thing on these peoples minds.Userping power is number one.Pakistan has passed one hurdle of a 5 year rule.Many others stand in your way.Do not screw it up with infighting.There are those waiting on the sidelines.
Tajmeer Mar 20, 2013 04:38am
As the process of selecting and interim govt we seen how our politician are wise and how much understandable and give respect to each other decisions. What we can get from those people that can't choose a person for this country in 4 days. How the international community will think of us. Why we don't have a strong leadership that can resolve the issues for the sack of the people of Pakistan.
Rp Mar 20, 2013 06:10am
One other solution that comes to my simple mind - let each party offer a name; then write each of the offered names on same size separate paper, fold these papers so no one can see what name is written on what paper; drop these folded papers in a box and let a child (I hope they don't fight over the selection of the child) draw one name from the box - I did not say it is a brilliant solution - but it definitely is one of the solutions and very easy to implement.
Khalid Mar 20, 2013 10:12am
The fight over who gets to be the interim Prime Minister shows the maturity of Sharifs and Zardaris. These people call themselves the leaders of a nation and can not even agree on a caretaker PM. It really demonstrates the egos at play here. No other country in the world has made it such a big issue. Another reason for the people of Pakistan to wake up and reject the parties they have tried before and give someone else (ANYONE) a chance as whoever they are, they can not be worse than the two big parties we have.
Nadeem Ullah Mar 20, 2013 11:14am
The problem is, both parties want to have their own puppet as the PM which is why it's the deadlock there. One cannot understand why they are not able to find an honest person out of such a big nation.
Nadeem Ullah Mar 20, 2013 11:16am
The problem is, they haven't been sincere to the nation during the last 5 years, how can they be now?
Cyrus Howell Mar 20, 2013 12:07pm
General Musharraf would make a good "caretaker" prime minister. No need to even vote for him.
Agha Ata (USA) Mar 20, 2013 12:47pm
How often does dialogue solve anything in Pakistan? The answer is "never." The reason is that a "dialogue" doesn't mean the same thing as it does in the rest of the world. In the rest of world it means two people discussing an issue, let me repeat it "an issue." giving and taking in order to compromise for a greater purpose, hoping and trying to reach an outcome acceptable to both parties. In Pakistan, (and let me make it clear, in every walk of life, in homes, among families, in offices, in any meeting whatsoever, even in national assembly or any other assembly of top politicians to discuss something) a dialogue simply means fault finding, belittling personalities, especially each other in order to finally humiliate them, to raise one's own size, be it on radio, in a meeting room or on TV.screen totally ignoring the ISSUE, the main issue they met for discussing in the first place!
Riaz Mar 20, 2013 02:38pm
People of Pakistan fail to understand every time, elections and government is all about self interest of politicians and nothing to do with national interest or the welfare of the people. Before they used to rob behind closed doors, now it has been openly done in the last few days of loot by the PPP government. Elections will not change anything unless you elect a party hell bent on changing the system, only than people will have a respite from robbery and corruption.
Gerry D'Cunha Mar 20, 2013 02:50pm
Nadeem: come-on - will an honest man in pakistan rub dirt on his face after experiencing 65 years of dirt on the shoulders of each govt. no! no! an honest man in pakistan wants to live in peace and harmony rather than to fall in the pit of dirt
Gerry D'Cunha Mar 20, 2013 06:42pm
Cyrus: you are calling yourself into trouble by the two major political party including PTI - hope you don't reside in pakistan
Ahsan Raza Mar 20, 2013 09:36pm
choose Imran Khan plz.
Keti Zilgish Mar 20, 2013 10:01pm
I agree that "General Musharraf would make a good