May 29, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — The ruling PML-N and opposition parties on Monday announced appointment of former Supreme Court chief justice Nasir ul Mulk as caretaker prime minister.
The selection of a former chief justice comes days after the country’s president announced that general elections will be held on July 25 — setting up what would be Pakistan’s second ever democratic transfer of power.
“Today is an important day in the democratic history of Pakistan, the name was chosen after consensus was reached,” said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during a press conference in capital Islamabad.
“We have chosen a person whose past is very clear,” Abbasi said.
Opposition leader Khursheed Shah added that Mulk, who served on the top court for nearly a decade — including a stint as chief justice from July 2014 to August 2015 — had backing across the political spectrum.
“We are happy that the government was able to complete its five-year term…I am hopeful that God will give him the passion and courage to successfully conduct free, fair and impartial elections in Pakistan on July 25, 2018.”
The job of the caretaker PM is to keep the country running between the dissolution of parliament and the new government being sworn in.
The current government’s tenure will end on May 31. Power will then be handed over to a caretaker administration.
Mulk famously helped pave the way for the removal of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani after he was convicted for contempt in 2012 for refusing to ask Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against then president Asif Ali Zardari who also headed Pakistan Peoples Party at that time.
The former Chief is one of the seven judges who signed a restraining order on Nov 3, 2007, when retired Gen Pervez Musharraf as President and Army Chief imposed emergency and forcibly sent the judges home.
Justice Mulk later joined the judiciary on Sept 20, 2008, under the Naek formula when he took a fresh oath as a judge of the Supreme Court with his seniority intact.
The appointment of the widely respected judge as caretaker PM came as a surprise because he was not named as a potential frontrunner in recent discussions in the media about who would take the helm as caretaker premier.
The July polls will bring to a head political tensions that have been mounting since former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court on corruption charges last July and later barred from politics for life — polls could be a bruising one, local daily Dawn wrote recently.
Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s seven-decade history to be ousted before finishing a full term. The former PM says his election campaign will focus on “respect for vote” while his main rival Imran Khan, the former cricketer-turned politician, promises rule of law and continuance of his anti-corruption drive. Imran led the campaign to have Sharif disqualified from office for corruption.
The country witnessed its first democratic transfer of power following polls in 2013, which Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won.
The upcoming elections are expected to pit Sharif-led PML-N against Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in what many observers say could be a defining moment in country’s politics and project democracy.