“Pakistan’s Caretaker Government Faces Neutrality Questions Amid Imran Khan’s Detention”

Pakistan's Caretaker Government Faces Neutrality Questions Amid Imran Khan's Detention

Pakistan, September 15, 2023 – Pakistan’s Election Commission has raised questions regarding the neutrality of the country’s caretaker government, which is tasked with overseeing national elections. The commission has expressed concerns that the interim government appears to be favoring the political rivals of imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The caretaker government assumed power last month following the expiration of parliament’s five-year term. Its primary responsibility is to ensure fairness and impartiality in the lead-up to the elections. However, the ongoing incarceration of Imran Khan and his disqualification from contesting elections have generated doubts about the government’s impartiality.

In a rare official rebuke of the government, the Election Commission conveyed its concerns in a letter addressed to the office of caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar. The letter, dated Wednesday, suggested that there is a prevailing perception that the caretaker government continues the policies of the previous administration.

Anwar ul Haq Kakar, whose party was part of the outgoing anti-Imran Khan coalition government, succeeded Shehbaz Sharif, a member of Imran Khan’s main rival party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). This alliance, comprising nearly a dozen parties, played a significant role in removing Imran Khan from power.

Perceptions of bias in the caretaker government could potentially cast a shadow over the credibility of the upcoming elections. The national election, originally scheduled for November, is now facing almost certain delays, further exacerbating political uncertainty in Pakistan, a nation of 241 million people grappling with a severe economic crisis.

No specific date has been set for the election, leading to concerns that the caretaker government, led by Anwar ul Haq Kakar, who hails from a pro-military political party, may remain in power for an extended period.

Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi dismissed suggestions of bias, emphasizing that the government has no favorites in the electoral race and is committed to providing a level playing field to all political parties.

However, the Election Commission’s concerns emerged just hours after Anwar ul Haq Kakar included a longtime loyalist of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan’s primary political opponent, in his cabinet. The letter from the commission urged caution to prevent individuals with “known political allegiance” from being added to the government.

The caretaker cabinet also includes other supporters of Sharif’s party and its allies, as well as vocal critics of Imran Khan’s rule from 2018 to 2022.

Imran Khan, ousted from office in April 2022 through a parliamentary vote of confidence, has consistently accused the military of orchestrating his removal following his falling out with the country’s top generals, who often play a significant role in determining Pakistan’s leadership. These latest developments raise concerns about the political landscape in Pakistan as the nation braces for a critical election.

Sources By Agencies

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