Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Sunday called on leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in hiding over their alleged involvement in the May 9 riots to surrender to authorities, warning they will face hurdles in political activities if they fail to do so.
During an interview with Geo News, he also maintained that the entire party should not be blamed for the violence after the arrest of PTI founder Imran Khan in May 2023, adding he could not offer a conclusive opinion on whether Khan had orchestrated the incident. “I receive many reports on this, which are sometimes conflicting. Therefore, you cannot make your decision on that basis,” he said, adding it was up to courts to establish guilt or innocence.
Claiming he had supported the PTI during the 2013 and 2018 general elections due to a perception it could rid the country of its problems, he said his views had now changed. “I have realized that they [PTI] don’t have any team or vision to address problems confronting the country,” he said.
To a question on whether he believed efforts were underway to “install” Nawaz Sharif as the next prime minister, he said he had no knowledge of this. The public, he maintained, would know of any “decision” on the morning of Feb. 9—the day after general elections—and hoped all uncertainty would be laid to rest following the polling exercise.
To a question on prominent Baloch personalities, he said no one considered Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo or Sardar Ataullah Mengal “traitors,” but noted the case of Akbar Bugti was different. “Unfortunately, his [Bugti] death took place in a situation when he and the state came face to face, armed. Not necessary to attribute the title of treason on him,” he said, adding there were times both sides of a conflict regretted adopting the path of violence. “It could also be asked whether it was right to lead an armed struggle in this age,” he said, of Bugti’s 2006 conflict with the state.
“The sanctity of the state is anyway a lot bigger than individuals,” he stressed. Recalling that several Pakistan Army soldiers were also martyred in the clash with Bugti, he said the issue was “complex,” and it was not up to him to decide who was in the “wrong” or “right.”
On the Baloch separatist movement, he said Brahumdagh Bugti considers armed struggle a legitimate means to achieve an independent Baloch state. History, he said, would be the judge of whether this viewpoint is treason or not.
To a question on a conciliatory approach for past separatist movements, Kakar lamented that rather than adopting peace, such concessions often saw the same people return to their old tactics. “Whether there should be reconciliation [with separatists] or not is something to think about,” he said, adding the state has to learn how to react.
On recent remarks about Baloch missing persons that triggered backlash, he regretted that his statement was misconstrued. “No one threw anyone down from a helicopter, it is just cheap propaganda,” he said, maintaining several allegations have been levelled in cases of missing persons. This issue, he said, should be resolved in a phased manner on a grassroots level.
Reiterating some armed organizations in Balochistan believed that violence and armed struggle was the correct means to change geography, he said this was the base of the issue. “But several factions of society, including political parties, are in denial and keep linking this with human rights,” he regretted, adding society must determine if any group is permitted to lead an armed struggle or form militias. “The Constitution doesn’t allow this,” he said, questioning if some human rights organizations, intelligentsia or media want this section of the Constitution struck down.
According to the caretaker, Pakistan’s existing laws are ineffective to address militancy. “More than 90,000 innocent people were killed in terrorist attacks but not even nine terrorists were convicted. This shows that our system does not work. Three previous parliaments also failed to address the issue,” he said.
On the civil-military imbalance, Kakar said a change of government should come about through the ballot so the people can hold politicians accountable. “The problems begin when the government fails to follow democracy and this issue is also being debated in the West. I am also an advocate of the democratic system but people’s support comes only when the civil side performs,” he said.
When civil authorities fail to deliver, he warned, it creates a space for the military to enter and take over.
To a question on whether the next prime minister would have the authority to freely decide the country’s financial matters, especially after the formation of Special Investment and Finance Council (SIFC), he claimed the civil-military body provided more space to the prime minister. Through this forum, he maintained, relevant institutions brief him on the economic situation and decisions are taken with the military’s support. “Final decision of the SIFC is made by the P.M.,” he added.