Kakar named interim PM in surprise pick

President gives nod to summary for senator’s appointment sent to him by PM, opposition leader

Senator Anwaarul Haq Kakar. PHOTO: @anwaar_kakar/TWITTER


Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) Senator Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Saturday was given the nod by President Dr Arif Alvi as the country’s caretaker premier after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz agreed on his name.

The premier and the opposition leader finalised Kakar’s name during a meeting at the PM House earlier in the day. They subsequently signed and sent the advice to the president for the final approval.

President Alvi swiftly approved the summary under Article 224-1A of the Constitution.

Although the name of Senator Kakar has been approved, the officials of the presidency said he would be sworn in on August 14 — Independence Day.

Kakar’s appointment has come after the National Assembly was dissolved on August 9 — just three days before it could complete its five-year term.

“The final consultation process between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition on the appointment of the caretaker [premier] has been successfully completed,” a statement issued by the PM Office read.

“[Anwaarul Haq Kakar]’s name as [the] caretaker prime minister has been agreed upon,” it added.

PM Shehbaz and the opposition leaders’ choice surprised many as Kakar, a BAP leader who was elected as a senator in 2018 from Balochistan, was not even discussed once in the media’s wild guessing game spanning over the past few weeks.

On Friday night, insiders confirmed to the extent that the media’s fervent conjectures and the names discussed in the public sphere were nowhere near the mark.

The insiders added that the name, which had been kept under wraps, was poised to astonish many.

It turned out that they were correct as many major names including those of Ishaq Dar and Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh were dropped.

Even though many have welcomed Kakar’s appointment, but some believe that choosing a BAP leader as the caretaker premier has only come with the consent of the ‘powerful stakeholders’ of the country.

BAP is considered to be a brainchild of the ‘powerful circles’, which the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) led by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman used to blame for the political morass.

At one time, PML-N Senior Vice President and Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz lashed out at the PPP for gaining support from BAP senators to have its candidate, former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani, elected as the leader of the opposition in Senate.

She added that the PPP was so desperate for the petty office that it accepted votes from BAP.

“It’s sad that you accepted votes from BAP, which follows the commands of its BAP [meaning father — in an indirect reference to the ‘powerful circles’],” Maryam remarked while playing on words.

She maintained that the PPP chose to deceive everyone by claiming that BAP’s lawmakers were independent with no political affiliation. “You [PPP] cannot hoodwink the people,” she continued.

Earlier in March 2018, a little-known BAP leader Sadiq Sanjrani defeated PML-N candidate Raja Zafarul Haq to become the Senate chairman despite the latter having an edge in the upper house of parliament back then.
PML-N officials accused Sanjrani of being a “pro-powerful circles” candidate. However, both Sanjrani and the ‘powerful circles’ denied this claim.

Later, a no-confidence motion against Sanjrani also failed and a reporter had pushed the then united opposition’s candidate for the Senate chairman, the late Mir Hasil Bizenjo, about who the turncoats in their ranks were.

Bizenjo famously replied: “They were Gen (now retired) Faiz’s men” without elaborating much.

Now, PM Shehbaz, who is also the PML-N president, along with opposition leader, named the BAP leader as the caretaker premier on the heels of him allegedly admitting before journalists in his farewell meetings that he had always been at good terms with the ‘powerful circles’.

Despite the bitter history, Kakar will soon take oath and pick a cabinet, whose primary task would be to hold general elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the NA amid fears being expressed by key ministers of the former ruling coalition of a delay in conducting the polls.

The fears came to the surface after the Council of Common Interests (CCI) ordered to hold the elections on the basis of the new census, which needed redrawing of the constituencies’ boundaries.

As a result of the CCI decision, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has to complete the delimitation process, which has an outer limit of 120 days. The ECP also has to give a 54-day period for completing the election schedule.

Based on these two tasks, it is feared that the elections could be delayed and the caretaker set-up might last longer than its constitutional limit of 90 days, just like it happened in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The PTI had dissolved both the provincial assemblies in the hope that it would force the then federal government to hold snap polls but that did not happen despite the intervention of the Supreme Court. Later, the May 9 mayhem occurred in the wake of the arrest of PTI chairman and deposed Imran Khan. The PTI faced a crackdown and it crumbled like a house of cards. The PTI chief was convicted in the Toshakhana (gift repository) case — one of several dozen others against him — and ended up in Attock jail.

Recently, the outgoing government enhanced the powers of the caretaker set-up by amending the Election Act, 2017, authorising it to make decisions about the existing bilateral or multilateral agreements or the projects already initiated under the Public Private Partnership Authority Act, 2017; Inter-Governmental Commercial Transactions Act, 2022, and Privatisation Commission Ordinance, 2000.

These changes have given fuel to the speculations that the caretaker set-up will stay longer than its constitutional period and that is why it has been questioned if Kakar would be able to navigate through the economic and political mess the country currently was in until a newly-elected government took over.

Kakar has served as the spokesperson for the Balochistan government in 2013. In 2008, he ran for a NA seat from Quetta on a PML-Q ticket.

He also co-launched BAP. Currently, Kakar is the chairperson of a Senate standing committee. He holds a Masters’ degree in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Balochistan.

“I am thankful to the Almighty for being given an opportunity to serve the people of Pakistan,” Kakar tweeted hours after being named as the interim PM.

“My gratitude also extends to all the stakeholders for reposing their trust in me to lead the country,” he wrote. He requested for prayers to carry out his responsibilities with due diligence.

The PPP and JUI-F — two key allies of the PML-N during its 16-month rule — extended their facilitations to Kakar.
PPP Information Secretary Shazia Marri shunned the news report suggesting that her party had reservations over Kakar’s name.

She maintained that the PPP had given full authority to PM Shehbaz to finalise the caretaker premier.

The JUI-F chief called up Kakar to congratulate him on being chosen as the caretaker premier.

According to a JUI-F statement, during the phone call, Fazl hoped that Kakar would ensure free, fair and timely elections in the country.

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