Caretakers Must Take Care of the State

DND Thought CenterCaretakers Must Take Care of the State

By Agha Iqrar Haroon

The Federal interim government is under fire because there is no elected government available as “shooting butt”.

The concept of a caretaker government was introduced in Pakistan in 1985 by military dictator Zia-ul-Haq. This arrangement after the introduction of the Elections Act of 2017, is called “interim government” that guarantees fair, and free elections by following the principles of equity and clarity. The Elections (Amendment) Act, 2023 has given extra powers to the interim government to run the state smoothly. Some politicians fear that the tenure of the interim government would be extended and general elections would be delayed for an indefinite period and Pakistan would be run by technocrats already inducted in the interim government.

Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar has chosen a professional team but he inherits a range of political, economic, and security challenges and one such is a never-ending love affair of the higher judiciary with former prime minister Imran Khan

Pakistani politicians are always afraid of the word “technocrats” because all previously installed non-elected governments had been run by technocrats and sometimes technocrats were imported to run the country. Former caretaker prime minister Moeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi is the best example. I remember the day when I along with Moeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi and four other reporters visited the graves of his parents in Miani Sahib graveyard in Lahore. Surprisingly he had no Pakistani identity card and he was an American citizen and he remained an American citizen while running Pakistan as caretaker prime minister. He introduced extensive reforms under the direction of the IMF. He initiated a process of “payment culture” that targeted the tax evaders and loan defaulters. He also ordered the publication of the list of taxpayers that showed that the country had a small tax base and only a few paid taxes. He devaluated the national currency and increased the prices of food and common items. Thank God this caretaker government has a Pakistani national as prime minister.

The time has arrived to decide whether should we protect civilian rights enjoyed by the higher judiciary or the state of Pakistan

Interim Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar has chosen a professional team but he inherits a range of political, economic, and security challenges and one such is a never-ending love affair of the higher judiciary with former prime minister Imran Khan. Other challenges are the rock-solid commitment of President Arif Alvi with his political party, nascent unrest among the public over ever-increasing utility bills and petroleum prices, and the budding risk of terrorism. These adversative and opposing factors are combined with the latest PTI media campaign against the Pakistan Army and its lobbying for building international pressure over Islamabad.

The higher judiciary that had pierced its ears in a love affair with Imran Khan would definitely announce some “historic decisions” knowingly that nobody would execute such decisions.  So the situation is quite difficult for the interim government and for the military leadership.

We must not forget that PTI directly or indirectly gets support from foreign elements and financial resources have never been a problem for PTI therefore, it can invest money to create further unrest in the country because of the level of callousness of this party we have already seen in last five years and May 9, 2023 attempt of mutiny left no doubt that PTI can go to any degree to safeguard its Chairman Imran Khan. According to some news items, PTI has hired an international team to file a case against the State of Pakistan in the International Court of Justice. PTI has resources for maligning Pakistan at international forums and recently it launched expensive media campaigns in Europe and North America against the Pakistan Army. Now I fear that social and economic conditions are providing ideal circumstances in which PTI can attempt another May 9, 2023, because Imran Khan wants to see Pakistan into total chaos and he had been wishing to see Pakistan a failed and dysfunctional state. Has he already pushed Pakistan to such a level or still there is a hope left for Pakistan?

PTI’s engineered chaos is mingled with TTP disarray. Terrorists are again active in settled areas and in August 2023, 54 militant attacks were reported in which serious causalities were 77 civilians and 37 security forces personnel, while 181 civilians and 36 security forces personnel sustained injuries. The attacks have a constant upward trend and there was a 381% increase in civilian deaths. Just in the last 30 days, around 20-plus men in uniform were martyred by terrorists who are regrouping even in settled areas like Bannu.  Afghan soil is fertile land for TTP terrorists to attack Pakistan while constant smuggling of sugar, meat, US currency, and wheat is being done under the alleged cover of the Afghan interim government.

The economy is in a shamble, terrorism is knocking at the door and the higher judiciary is constantly supporting characters of the May 9 vandalism and these are brutal realities being faced by the interim government. What to do now?

I believe that the interim setup has enough moral justifications to take drastic decisions as well as actions to safeguard the country to mitigate further chaos and it must exploit every possibility to purge adversaries that are ruthlessly harming Pakistan including mafias that are controlling and running parallel economy, redundant civil administration that has ruthlessly failed to collect direct taxes and to control smuggling of edible and US currency to Afghanistan that is costing Pakistan to import wheat and sugar.

I am not an optimist or pessimist person rather I believe in realism. The time has arrived to decide whether should we protect civilian rights enjoyed by the higher judiciary or the state of Pakistan. Furthermore, the interim setup should explain to the West that Pakistan is going through an existentialist crisis and we need to take unusual measures as the West took after the 9/11 tragedy. We remember that Europe and the United States introduced special laws contrary to traditional Western democracy after 9/11 to safeguard their population from expected terrorism so we also have the same right to introduce our kind of democracy because we are going through much more dangerous circumstances than Western countries went through after 9/11. Therefore, I believe that the interim government should not work as “interim” rather it has a duty to act as a “caretaker” and it must take care of the country by forgetting compartmentations. Is the country more important or are the laid-down rules limiting the caretakers for not taking care of the motherland?


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

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