ISLAMABAD: The ruling coalition and the main opposition party, the PML-N, are independently striving to win the goodwill of significant political forces, lacking representation in Parliament, by vowing to consult with them on the future caretaker setup to hold fair, free and impartial general elections.
Both sides are poised to take the non-parliamentary players on board on the next interim arrangement although the Constitution restricts such consultation between the prime minister (or chief minister) and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly (or provincial assembly) alone. But there is no synchronization between the two on this count and their efforts are detached from each other.
“By involving these political actors in this important process we want everybody to agree with the selection of the temporary system and nobody raises fingers at its standing and integrity before, during or after elections,” an official source told The News.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday that preparations for upcoming general elections should now be made.The official source said that it has been decided at the highest level of the government that consultations would also be held with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on the stopgap system.
It was because of this decision that the prime minister and his predecessor, Yusuf Raza Gilani, harped on the same theme almost simultaneously. While the former said on the Independence Day that the government is ready to hold consultations with the opposition on the caretaker setup as it believes in useful dialogue on all matters of national importance so that important national issues are resolved through consensus and the supremacy of democracy is ensured, Gilani specifically said that in addition to the parliamentary parties, the PPP has decided in principle to involve the PTI and JI in the consultative process for introducing the caretaker government.
“No doubt, it is very difficult for us to liaise with the PTI on the next caretaker setup given its persisting attack on the top PML-N leaders, yet we will take it into confidence as we did on the appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC),” a senior PML-N stalwart said adding that on its part his party did not want to let any political force worth the name grudge that it was ignored in the vital process.
Other PML-N leaders say while there are absolutely no chances of any alliance with the PTI, there is a strong possibility that their party is going to have some kind of cooperative arrangement with the JI and smaller nationalist parties of Sindh and Balochistan.
In order to assign due weight and bearing to these political forces, the PML-N will consult with them on the future caretaker setup as it did about the nomination of the CEC, they say.
In the beginning, the government resisted the nomination of Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim as the CEC mainly because it was proposed by the PML-N for this berth, but it did agree to his name after some time, seeing that the former judge enjoys universal approval.
“We have taken the first most important step—the CEC’s nomination—which was an essential prerequisite for holding of free and fair elections, and after the appointment of an honest and reliable caretaker prime minister, it can be stated confidently that vital elements for transparent electoral exercise are in place,” the PML-N leader said.
He said that the PML-N’s effort was to come out with such an honest, neutral and unbiased name for the top office that nobody objects to it, and the government is left with no option but to consent. “We have certain names in mind to propose as the interim prime minister,” the PML-N leader said but refused to disclose them.