Unveiling the Interim Selection . .

               After a prolonged phase of suspense and anticipation, the cloak has finally been lifted on the appointment of an interim prime minister, catching even the ruling coalition members’ off-guard. The unexpected nomination of Senator Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar marks the end of a waiting game, with the former leader of the opposition suggesting his name and the former prime minister concurring.

               The launch of what has been termed ‘Project Kakar’ makes no pretense at neutrality. It also casts doubts on the timeliness of upcoming elections. Even if the elections precede as planned, skepticism surrounding their fairness will persist in the face of a pliable interim arrangement. The growing influence of the security establishment looms ominously over any prospects of a seamless democratic transition. BNP leader Akhtar Mengal’s pointed critique, following Kakar’s nomination, holds a kernel of truth as politicians seem increasingly reliant on the establishment for matters that should ideally be resolved through political means. It’s important to note that there were other Baloch leaders with more robust credentials who could have been chosen for this role.

               Kakar’s political prominence grew following his pivotal role in establishing the Balochistan Awami Party in 2018, an endeavor in which the security establishment’s involvement is an open secret. In the same year, he ascended to the position of senator, an impressively rapid political ascent. He diligently projected the establishment’s stance on domestic and international policy matters through public platforms. Yet, his charm and eloquence endeared him to the political circles in Islamabad, possibly contributing to his nomination.

               However, the entire process of selecting an interim prime minister lays bare the frailty of our political leadership, which surrendered its authority rather tamely. The legislative measures introduced by the ruling coalition not only expanded the caretaker government’s role beyond its constitutional mandate of overseeing elections but also bolstered security agencies, further cementing the establishment’s hold.

               In essence, the past 16 months witnessed a hybrid-plus rule, with the military leadership assuming a central role in directing the nation’s economic and investment policies, solidifying the security establishment’s sway over the political landscape.

               The Election Commission must promptly announce an election timeline to dispel the existing uncertainty. The forthcoming months will indeed test the interim government as the nation grapples with multifaceted challenges. While the new laws have vested the interim administration with decision-making authority on critical matters, particularly the economy, it’s crucial that this power isn’t leveraged to extend their rule beyond constitutional limits.

               The caretaker government must strive to reduce the political temperature across the nation. Hounding PTI supporters and unwarranted arrests must cease, releasing those detained without charges. Only by creating a conducive atmosphere can the upcoming elections be carried out without jeopardizing the democratic process of a nation facing existential threats.

               With the interim administration in place, the foremost challenge is to avoid any undue delay in the electoral process. While it’s true that the new population census necessitates the redrawing of constituencies, potentially delaying elections until February of next year, extending the postponement beyond that could have dire implications for national stability. It’s imperative not only to conduct elections within the stipulated timeframe but also to ensure a democratic transition through fair and transparent polls. Given the prevailing political tension and polarization, the Election Commission of Pakistan faces herculean tasks.

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