It is always good to see democracy working smoothly and systematically. The ongoing steps between the government and the opposition to set up a caretaker government, ahead of the general elections, marks such a step forward. For the sake of a smooth electoral process without too many accusations of unfair play being hurled about, it is important that major parties agree on the interim set-up that conducts the election and have complete faith in its neutrality. This can also save people from a great deal of confusion and chaos.
In this sense, the phone call made by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali, suggesting a meeting to decide on the caretaker set-up is important. The PPP and the PML-N have already agreed at previous meetings on the matter that the interim government will go into place early November and conduct polls within two and a half months. The constitutionally mandated period is of course 90 days. The terms of the agreement will, as they stand now, take us to a poll sometime in January. Given weather conditions in the north at that time of the year, let us hope the logistics will be sensibly worked out.
Undoubtedly, there will be some bickering during the meetings ahead, on issues like the precise composition of the caretaker set-up. We must hope this can be amicably worked out. It is important that an agreement is reached and caretakers, who are genuinely regarded as neutral by all stakeholders, are put in place so that the election process is a harmonious one without any large obstacles springing up. The expressions of cooperation coming from both sides are encouraging. Let us hope this spirit can continue into the crucial caretaker period, that men and women of integrity and honour can be selected for posts on this panel and that the election itself is conducted in a manner that allows peace and goodwill to prevail so that the positive steps taken now, can continue into the future and our still-unstable democracy strengthened through this crucial process.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.