Mainstream political parties have strongly objected to the technocratic set up proposal made recently
peculation about a long-term technocrat set up to govern the crisis-ridden Pakistan has surfaced once again draped as a solution to secure economic and political sustainability. However, mainstream political parties have objected to the proposal that has made the rounds recently.
Last year, the idea for such set-up surfaced amidst a politically volatile situation. In the aftermath of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) demand for early elections after having been ousted from power in April 2022, talk of dissolving the National Assembly and installing an interim or, as more recently being termed, a technocratic setup for at least six months till the holding of the next general elections in the last quarter of 2023 started making rounds. However, the PTI did not agree to it.
Some experts, considered close to the military establishment, are said to be airing further speculation by saying that back-door discussions were going on to replace the current government with a caretaker setup comprising experts in a bid to resolve the current political and economic crisis. As per some news reports, the set-up was considered for as long as two years. The government was to take “tough decisions” for the country’s stability that elected governments hesitate to take amid fears of losing popular support.
Former Federal Board of Revenue chairman Shabbar Zaidi said that bringing in an interim set-up of technocrats was imperative. He said that the current government and the PTI government before it had failed to take the necessary extraordinary steps due to political expediency.
Former National Assembly speaker and PTI leader Asad Qaiser has publicly said that a proposal for a long-term technocrat (interim) set up was informally discussed with him by some members of the federal government.
But none of this is new. These ideas have been echoing over the past two decades. First it came under discussion in the form of a national government during Gen Pervez Musharraf’s regime. A similar national government was informally discussed when a no-confidence motion was brought against former prime minister Imran Khan.
“Having a technocrats’ set up, including those from abroad, will be a big mistake,” says PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry.
The constitution does not approve of a long-term interim setup. Article 224 of the constitution says that the interim government will act only as a caretaker setup and hold elections within three months. Article 232 of the constitution allows the proclamation of an emergency on account of the war, internal disturbance, etc.
Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani says: “The constitution provides for a caretaker cabinet in terms of Article 224… wherein, such a [setup] is activated on the dissolution of the assembly on completion of its term, or in case it is dissolved under Article 58 or Article 112… then the president or the governor, as the case may be, shall appoint a caretaker cabinet in consultation with the prime minister and or chief minister and the leader of the opposition in the outgoing National Assembly or provincial Assembly, as the case may be.”
“The constitution further provides that if the prime minister or the chief minister, as the case may be and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly or the provincial assembly, as the case may be, cannot arrive at an agreement then the provisions of Article 224 A, constitution, shall be triggered,” he said.
Key political stakeholder parties – the ruling Pakistan Muslim Nawaz and the PTI in the opposition – have rejected the technocratic proposal saying that general elections are the only solution for a sustainable and democratic Pakistan.
Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar rejected the possibility of a technocrat set up saying it was not a practical solution. The PTI has called it a “joke” with democracy. “The constitution is clear that if assemblies are dissolved before their stipulated time, then elections will be held in 90 days. If the assemblies are dissolved on time, then the poll will be held in 60 days,” Tarar said. Once the assemblies are dissolved, a caretaker government will come in, he said adding, “there is no other option apart from this.”
“Having a technocrats’ set up, including those from abroad, will be a big mistake,” says PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry. “The constitution provides solution and that is holding elections to let the people decide who should run the country,” he stated.
The writer is a staff reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com