ISLAMABAD, March 27: Despite being a nominee of the formerly ruling party, almost all the mainstream political parties, including those in the opposition camp, have welcomed the designation of Mir Hazar Khan Khoso as the country’s sixth caretaker prime minister.
However, most of the political leaders are of the view that the matter should not have gone to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the decision should have been taken by the parliamentary committee comprising the government and opposition representatives.
All the five previous caretaker prime ministers had remained the target of criticism by major political parties for their past roles and association with a particular political party and this is for the first time that almost all of the parties are unanimously expressing confidence in the caretaker set-up.
The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), which had rejected Mr Khoso’s nomination by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and later opposed his appointment at the parliamentary committee level, has also accepted the ECP’s decision.
“We respect the election commission’s decision on the nomination of the caretaker prime minister,” said PML-N President Nawaz Sharif in a one-line statement issued by the party.
When contacted, PML-N’s Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan said: “Everyone should accept the ECP’s decision with an open heart and we also accept it.”
Mr Khan said that even though the ECP did not chose the PML-N’s nominee, the party was happy that a legal and constitutional path had been followed for the appointment of the caretaker prime minister for the first time in the country’s political history.
He said that credit for the constitution amendment ensuring setting up of a neutral caretaker regime in the country for holding of elections in free, fair and transparent manner must be given to the PML-N.
The PML-N leader regretted that at a time when the ECP was discussing the nominees for the caretaker prime minister, the PPP’s information secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira had openly stated that his party would not accept the nomination of retired Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid at any cost.
On the other hand, he said, the PML-N had always stated that it would accept any decision of the ECP.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, in its cautious reaction termed Mr Khoso’s appointment a “constitutional verdict”.
“This is a constitutional verdict and we accept it,” said PTI’s vice-chairman Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, when contacted.
Mr Qureshi said the PTI expected that Mr Khoso would “strengthen” and “assist” the ECP to ensure elections in a transparent manners. The PTI, he said, also expected from Mr Khoso that he would remove the impression that he was a nominee of a particular political party.
Similarly, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) which had boycotted the previous polls along with the PTI, termed Mr Khoso’s appointment “a correct decision of the ECP.”
JI Spokesman Shahid Shamsi said that since all the opposition parties had complete confidence in the ECP, the party also respected its decisions. He, however, was of the view that it would have been better if the political leadership had made this decision.
When contacted, deputy convener of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Dr Farooq Sattar said that his party was completely “satisfied” with Mr Khoso’s appointment that had come as a result of a constitutional process. The MQM leader said the ECP’s decision had also ended the uncertainty in the country and now the whole nation would enter the election phase.
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari also welcomed the nomination of Mr Khoso as the caretaker prime minister, terming it a “very significant and welcome development”.
President’s Spokesman Farhatullah Babar quoted Mr Zardari as saying that the nomination of Mr Khoso was a culmination of a part of the constitutional process to ensure free and fair elections and would be welcomed by all across the political divide.
The president said the forthcoming general elections under a caretaker neutral set-up selected under the constitutional process and an independent and empowered ECP duly empowered by the parliament for the first time in the country’s history was a very significant and welcome development that should help in banishing the spectre of “manipulated power transfer”.
The president also asked the people to exercise their right to vote and elect their representatives who best represented their hopes, aspirations and priorities.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who also telephoned Mr Khoso to congratulate him, expressed the confidence that the country would benefit from his knowledge, capabilities and experience as it moved towards general elections.
Mr Ashraf, who is also the secretary general of the PPP-Parliamentarians, hailed Mr Khoso’s appointment as “a commitment towards democratic process and upholding of rule of law and constitution of the country.”
Justice Khoso, who is scheduled to take oath of the office on Monday, is the second non-political figure to get the office of the caretaker prime minister. Earlier, a former vice-president of the World Bank Moin Qureshi had served as the caretaker prime minister from July 8, 1993 to October 19, 1993 after resignation of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as a result of his tussle with the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
The politicians who had served as the caretaker prime minister are Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi (1990); Mir Balkh Sher Mazari (1993); Malik Meraj Khalid (1996-97) and Muhammadmian Soomro (2008).
Islamabad Crowns Democracy Train’s Journey to Capitol (See Reports)