Senior journalist and Interim Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi.—File Photo

LAHORE: Senior journalist Najam Sethi took oath as caretaker chief minister of Punjab on Wednesday. He was selected as the interim head of the provincial government after marathon deliberations by the treasury and opposition members in the outgoing provincial assembly.

The oath was administered by Punjab Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood at the Governor House in Lahore.

Speaking to reporters after taking oath, Sethi said that the interim setup would be apolitical, and that political appointments would be made during the tenure of the caretaker government.

“There is no political agenda of this interim administration. The caretaker government’s job is to ensure support for free and fair elections,” said Sethi. “No concessions to be made for those who break law and order. Corruption would not be tolerated at any cost.”

Emphasising that he was not willing to give any favours, Sethi said that he was "nobody's friend or relative" as long as he was caretaker CM.

Answering a question by the reporter, he said he was looking forward to appointing a cabinet of roughly not more than “two or three” members in size, though he had been recommended to keep eight to ten people in the cabinet.

“We’ve confidence in the person of Najam Sethi and hope that he’ll show impartiality as caretaker chief minister like he has been doing impartial (political) analyses,” former law minister Rana Sanaullah of the PML-N had told the media outside the Punjab Assembly Tuesday evening after the provincial government and their allies agreed on Sethi name as the caretaker chief minister.

Mr Sethi is an experienced caretaker. From among all the names that have been discussed for inclusion in the interim governments tasked basically with the May 11 elections, Mr Sethi is the only one with a previous caretaker term to his credit. He was a federal minister in the caretaker set-up under Malik Meraj Khalid following the dismissal of the Benazir Bhutto government in 1996.

During his student life, Mr Sethi had fought along with the Baloch against army operation in 1974. Later, he shifted to Lahore and set up a books publishing business on The Mall, before bringing out a weekly, The Friday Times.

He had been picked up by security agencies during the previous regime of Nawaz Sharif in the late 1990s.

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