The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday advised interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar to avoid selecting any ministers of “known political allegiance” for his cabinet to ensure a level playing field for all political parties in the upcoming elections.
In a letter addressed to Tauqir Shah, the caretaker prime minister’s secretary, ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal Hussain noted a “general perception” that the caretaker government was a continuation of the previous government. “A recent press conference held by a political party is a pointer in this direction, whereby they have blamed the caretaker government for carrying on with the previous political legacy,” he said, adding due care should be exercised to avoid inducting into the cabinet any persons of known political allegiance. Curiously, the press conference referred to by ECP was of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which was itself a member of the ruling coalition that comprised the former government.
Similarly, it said, the same factors should be kept in mind while selecting senior civil servants for appointment to key positions to ensure a neutral caretaker setup. Referring to Article 218(3) of the Constitution, which mandates the ECP to organize and conduct elections and ensure they are held honestly, justly, fairly, and in accordance with the law, Hussain stressed that it was a “clarion call” to ensure a level playing field were provided to all political parties and contesting candidates.
The ECP’s letter came a day after former principal secretary to then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Fawad Hasan Fawad, was inducted into the caretaker cabinet. The former bureaucrat is considered to be close to the PMLN, prompting the PPP to condemn his inclusion into the interim cabinet and allege it raised questions over the neutrality of the caretaker government.