Monday, March 25, 2013

Caretaker setup : Civil society demands end to stalemate

A number of civil society groups came together to demand the end to a deadlock over the selection of the caretaker setup that is preventing a smooth transformation to the democratic process of elections in the country.

In a statement issued in Karachi on Tuesday the civil society groups observed that what was supposed to be a serious democratic exercise has turned into a point-scoring game with all political parties wanting their favourite candidate to be selected as the caretaker Prime Minister. Every political party has a list of candidates they support suggesting that knowingly or unknowingly all parties want the caretaker PM to favour their interests. This is a complete mockery of the democratic procedure that requires consensus on an individual with professional integrity and competency having the capability to implement the mandate of conducting free and fair elections.

The main qualification of a caretaker Prime Minister should be honesty, integrity, administrative and professional skills and respect for the rule of law. The caretaker PM’s job is to facilitate a set up to ensure impartial elections including facilitating conducive environment to ensure that the Election Commission carries out its job independent of any influences. The caretaker PM must also supervise that all sections of the population including women and minorities are able to exercise their right to cast vote without the interference of the outside forces. The caretaker setup should comprise members who represent and protect the interests of the marginalized, including workers, peasants and women.

The civil society groups also demanded that the suggested candidates having links with international financial institutions should be kept away from the democratic process. With all due respect to their credentials as competent professionals, they are also responsible for causing damage to the country’s economy and political and administrative set up because of the policies they sought to impose on direction from the international agencies. This is an issue of basic democratic principles. The caretaker set up’s job is merely to ensure free and fair elections. Favouring the proposed candidates for the purpose that they will help access concessions from the IMF is an undemocratic step.

The government is urged to refrain from sensationalizing the selection of the caretaker setup as that is not only preventing the smooth running of the affairs of the country, it is unnecessarily creating controversies that may harm the electoral process. The parties should develop a consensus soon and announce the caretaker government in the interest of protecting democracy that has repeatedly come under attack during the course of the last five years.

Citing the example of Fakhruddin G Ebrahim who was proposed as a candidate for the position of the Chief Election Commission Pakistan by the opposition party, the PML-N, and had the consensus of all political parties for his integrity, independence and professional ethics, it was suggested that a similar approach be adopted for the selection of the caretaker PM. An impartial caretaker set up is most critical for the smooth transition to the next democratically elected set up and only a candidate with no vested interests attached to any group or institution is capable of handling the job. pr

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