Khoso named Pak caretaker premier to conduct May 11 elections

Last Updated: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 18:24

Islamabad: Pakistan`s caretaker premier- designate Mir Hazar Khan Khoso on Sunday listed the fragile law and order situation and holding of free and fair elections as the top priorities of the new interim administration.
"My first priority is holding free and fair polls," the 84-year-old former judge told the media shortly after he was chosen as the caretaker Prime Minister by the Election Commission this afternoon.

"The administration will try to ensure that the law and order situation is good (for the polls)," Khoso, who is known for honesty, said when he was asked to list his priorities.

He described the upcoming elections, the law and order situation and Pakistan`s financial position as the biggest challenges facing the interim set-up.

Khoso, a former Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court and Federal Shariah Court, was chosen as the caretaker premier by the Election Commission after the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition and a bipartisan parliamentary committee were unable to forge consensus on the issue.

He said he would meet all political leaders and assure them about holding free and fair elections.

"Inshallah, the polls will be held on time. The law and order situation is bad?and I will work with the (caretaker provincial) Chief Ministers to improve law and order," he said.

The Pakistan People`s Party-led government completed its five-year term on March 16 and the general election to the 342-member National Assembly and four provincial assemblies will be held on May 11, marking the first democratic transition in the country`s history which has seen several coups.

The four Provincial Assemblies that will go to polls are Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Khoso refused to comment on the main opposition PML-N`s demand that the four provincial Governors and several top officials should be replaced as they were political appointees.

He said he would make a decision after studying the matter.

In response to a question, Khoso said his interim cabinet would have about a dozen members. "The cabinet will have as many members as necessary. But it will not be very large. There will be about 12 to 13 members," he said.

Khoso asserted that the polls would be held on time and the term of the caretaker set-up would not be extended under any circumstances.

He said the army could be called in to support the civil administration during the polls if needed.

Responding to a question, he said the courts will decide on graft cases against top politicians, including a case against outgoing Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for alleged corruption in setting up power projects.

In a separate development, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Khoso would take oath as the caretaker Prime Minister on Monday.

Prime Minister Ashraf telephoned Khoso and congratulated him on his nomination.
Ashraf expressed confidence that the country would benefit from Khoso`s knowledge, capabilities and experience as it moves towards the polls.

President Asif Ali Zardri too welcomed Khoso`s nomination, saying it marked the culmination of a constitutional process to ensure free and fair elections.

"The forthcoming general election under a neutral caretaker set-up and an independent and empowered Election Commission... For the first time in the country`s history was a very significant and welcome development that should help in banishing the spectre of manipulated power transfer," Zardari said.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 13:26

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