The appointment of Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso as caretaker prime minister is being hailed as a victory for democracy. We are happy because we with this decision we have another high-profile person from Balochistan. But it is significant and telling that the two major parties did not agree on this choice in the first round.
When all else failed, the decision was left to our most loved and respected 85-year-old chief election commissioner to announce the new caretaker prime minister, who himself is 84 years old, we are told. We are also told that Justice Khoso is an honest and upright official but the bigger question is whether his years of wisdom will help him deal with those who are bent on rigging the elections. His track record suggests that he has delivered in the past.
It is sad, however, that prime minister Khoso was selected by the ECP and not by the parliamentary committee. Our politicians do not agree on their choices of free and fair officials. As the matter went to the ECP, the PML-N lost out on its opportunity to bargain for its choice of candidate for the position of Punjab chief minister. Or did it? So far the names put up by the ruling party for their choice of Punjab CM suggests that they are not entirely serious about this.
It is a coincidence that the day we got our caretaker prime minister, a former president, after spending four years in exile, also returned to Pakistan. How interesting it is that the tables have been turned. When Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 2007, General Musharraf was all-powerful. And he is understood to have told Ms Bhutto that her safety depended on her relations with his government. Now he himself is fearful for his safety. The Taliban have already issued a threat. His security is in the hands of those he trusts. So what is he giving in return for this, ask many.
General Musharraf’s political future may be rather uncertain at the moment but by arriving in Pakistan, he has added to the rising political temperature in the country. He is likely to be elected from Chitral where his government helped complete the Lowari tunnel and the people of the area have never forgotten this. For them, he has delivered and they will vote him into parliament.
General Musharraf’s return comes as part of a deal, we are told. The Saudis have brokered yet another understanding. This reminds one of the deal under which General Musharraf allowed Mian Nawaz Sharif to leave the country into exile in 2000 – and then, under another deal, was allowed to come back to Pakistan in 2007.
Journalists recall how they were treated by security forces in 2007 when Mian Nawaz Sharif tried to return to Pakistan in between without some sort of understanding with General Musharraf. Four hours after landing in Pakistan, Mian sahib was put on another plane and sent back to Jeddah.
In addition to Islamabad and Karachi, Lahore is becoming the centre of action. The jalsa by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf at Minar-e-Pakistan on Pakistan Day has been a success. Tens of thousands of people attended the gathering, which in number was similar to a meeting that was held at the same venue some time earlier by Allama Tahirul Qadri. With this jalsa, it is predicted that the political fortunes of the PTI have brightened.
At the same time, local polls suggest that the PML-N also stands a good chance in the elections. There is a possibility that it may end up forming a coalition government if it is able to put on a good showing in areas that are not its traditional strongholds. We are told that Mian sahib has been persuaded to tone down his anti-Establishment talk and that some understanding is also being put into place here.
If all this is true, then we are seeing not only elections being held on time but also the caretakers handing over power on time. Some parties, however, may threaten to boycott the polls as we move closer to them because of what they see as moves that put them at a disadvantage. Possibly this is part of the larger plan.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2013.