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Talks on caretaker PM underway in Pakistan

world Updated: Feb 03, 2013 23:58 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad

With general elections expected to take place in May, hectic negotiations are being conducted in Pakistan between different parties on the choice of the caretaker prime minister and the cabinet which will oversee the polls. A number of names have cropped up and been shot down as the talks continue.

In March, as per a commitment made by PM Raja Perwez Ashraf, the government will resign and pave the way for a caretaker set up. This move is supported not only by the government allies and opposition parties but also by Dr Tahir Ul Qadri, who led the march to Islamabad to demand for free and fair elections.

Now, Qadri and the government are negotiating on the choice of candidate. One name that was floated was that of Asma Jahangir, a respected woman lawyer who headed the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. But Jahangir is not acceptable to Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf party and more importantly to the army high command, which sees Jahangir to be "too liberal and too pro-India."

Apart from comparisons being drawn in Pakistan between Anna Hazare and Tahir ul Qadri, both of whom are out to fight corruption, another example now being followed in Pakistan is by the election commission which is trying to copy the Indian model.

Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin Ebrahim announced in January that he was taking a cue from India in banning transfers and postings ahead of the elections as well as the sanctioning of state funds.

Ahead of the ban, the government regularised the services of over two hundred thousand contractual employees and diverted money meant for development projects to the prime minister's "discretionary fund."

Other names that have cropped up for the post of caretaker PM include a retired judge, Nasir Aslam Zahid, who has done a lot of work in jail reforms, including the release of Indian fishermen. A third name that is making the rounds is that of Aitezaz Ahsan, a member of the ruling party who is acceptable to others.