DSC_0006Election is the backbone of a strong democratic process. Free and fair elections and smooth transfer of power form the basis of a stable democracy in any country. With the passage of time, Pakistan is still strengthening their democratic systems by making changes in their election processes and incorporating new constitutional provisions as they feel the need during their journey towards stable democratic societies. The formation of the interim government comprising neutral persons is very essential for the completion of free, fair and transparent election.

Interim government or Caretaker government is a type of government that rules temporarily. Generally the term is used to describe the government that operates in the interim period between the normal dissolution of parliament for the purpose of holding an election and the formation of a new government after the election results are known. Such temporary government exists only to perform day to day administrative jobs, and is not supposed to deal with policy initiating functions which may influence the election results.

President General Zia ul Haq was the first to use the powers under Article 58 (2) b of the Constitution when he dissolved the National Assembly and dismissed the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo on May 29, 1988. He appointed a caretaker cabinet directly under him without appointing a caretaker Prime Minister. President Zia-ul-Haq died in an air crash before the elections could be held. Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who was the Chairman of the Senate, became the acting President according to the Constitution but retained the same caretaker cabinet as was appointed by his predecessor. The political critics say that the caretaker government generally consisted of persons who were opposed to Pakistan People’s Party. Despite these moves, Pakistan People’s Party emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly.

Federal Caretaker Cabinet (From 9-6-1988 to 1-12-1988)
1. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (The President)
Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan (Acting President)
2. Mr. Muhammad Aslam Khan Khattak (Senior Minister, Communications
3. Dr. Mahbubul Haq (Commerce, Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning & Development)
4. Malik Farid Ullah Khan (Culture & Tourism)
5. Mr. Mahmood A. Haroon (Defence and States & Frontier Regions Divisions and Railways)
6. Mr. Wazir Ahmad Jogezai (Education)
7. Mr. Sartaj Aziz (Food, Agriculture & Cooperative, Local Govt., Rural Development)
8. Sahabzada Yaqub Khan (Foreign Affairs)
9. Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani (Health, Sp. Education & Social Welfare and Housing and Works)
10. Ch. Shujaat Hussain (Industries)
11. Mr. Illahi Bakhsh Soomro (Information & Broadcasting and Water & Power)
12. Malik Nasim Ahmad Aheer (Interior and Kashmir Affairs & Northern Affairs Division)
13. Mr. Wasim Sajjad (Justice & Parliamentary Affairs)
14. Mir. Ahmad Nawaz Bughti (Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistani)
15. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan (Petroleum & Natural Resources and Science & Technology)
16. Mir. Afzal Khan (Production)
17. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali (Railways)
18. Maulana Wasi Mazhar Nadvi (Religious Affairs & Minorities Affairs)
19. Mr. Mustafa Sadiq (Public Affairs)
20. Mr. Fateh Mohammad Mohammad Hasni (Minister of State Communications)

The next caretaker Government was appointed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan after he dissolved the 8th National Assembly on 6th August 1990 using the eighth amendment and dismissed the government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on the charges of corruption. He appointed Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi as the Caretaker Prime Minister (6 August 1990- 6 November 1990) who was the Leader of the Opposition in the dissolved Assembly. Elections were scheduled for October, 1990. This caretaker government was obviously and clearly partisan and Pakistan People’s Party charged that the elections were rigged in favour of the parties opposing PPP. Islami Jamhuri Ittihad (IJI) led by Pakistan Muslim League emerged as the single largest party in the National assembly as a result of the election.

Federal Caretaker Cabinet (From 6-8-90 to 6-11-90)
1. Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi (Prime Minister)
2. Mr. Illahi Bakhsh Soomro (Commerce)
3. Mr. Sartaj Aziz (Finance, Economic Affairs and Planning & Development)
4. Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Khar (Water and Power)
5. Mr. Rafi Raza (Production)
6. Sahabzada Yaqub Khan (Foreign Affairs)
7. Chaudhry Shujat Hussain (Industries)
8. Malik Muhammad Naeem Khan (Communications)
9. Lt. Gen. (Retd) Abdul Majid Malik (Petroleum and NR States and FR & Kashmir Affairs)
10. Mian Zahid Sarfraz (Interior and Narcotics Control)
11. Mir. Hazar Khan Bijarani (Science and Technology and Religious Affairs & MA)
12. Syeda Abida Hussain (Information and Broadcasting)
13. Mr. Roedad Khan (Minister without portfolio)
14. Pir Aftab Hussain Shah (Food, Agriculture and Cooperatives)
15. Dr. Noor Jahan Panezai (Health, Special Education & SW Women Development)
16. Kazi Abdul Majid Abid (Education)
17. Mir Mohammad Naseer Mengal (Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis)
18. Makhdoom Shafiquz Zaman (Culture and Tourism)
19. Chaudhry Amir Hussain (Law, Justice and PA)
20. Mr. Islam Nabi (Housing and Works)

In April, 1993, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved the 9th National Assembly and dismissed the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. Mr. Balakh Sher Mazari (18 April 1993- 26 May 1993) was appointed as the new caretaker Prime Minster by the President. Elections were scheduled to be held in July but Mr. Mazari’s tenure ended on May 26, 1993, when the Supreme Court revoked the Presidential Order and reinstated Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister. However, because of the serious differences between the President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, both resigned from their offices on July 18, 1993, along with the dissolution of the National and Provincial Assemblies.

Federal Caretaker Cabinet (From 18-04-1993 to 26-05-1993)
1. Mr. Balakh Sher Mazari (Prime Minister)
2. Khan Anwar Saifullah Khan (Housing & Works, Environment and Urban Affairs)
3. Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani ( Defence)
4. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari (Water and Power)
5. Sardar Fateh Mohammad Hasni (Local Government and Rural Development)
6. Mr. Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao (Defence Production)
7. Mr. Arbab Muhammad Jehangir Khan (Petroleum and Natural Resources)
8. Mr. Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi (Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis)
9. Mir Ahmad Nawaz Bugti (Special Education and Special Welfare)
10. Sardar Wazir Ahmed Khan Jogezai (Women Development)
11. Mir Arbab Ghulam Rahim (Political Affairs)
12. Makhdoom Tanvir ul Hassan Gilani (Parliamentary Affairs)
13. Mr. Zahid Sarfraz ( Labour)
14. Mr. Manzoor Ahmed Gichki (Management Services)
15. Mr. Ihsan ul Haq Piracha (Commerce)
16. Mr. Jehangir Badr (Food and Agriculture)
17. Mr. Mohammad Afaque Khan Shahid (Health)
18. Mr. Zafar Ali Laghari (Industries)
19. Malik Mohammad Qasim (Railways)
20. Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali (Narcotics Control)
21. Mr. Aman Ullah Khan Jadoon (KANA)
22. Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada (Foreign Affairs)
23. Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah Jamote (Production Welfare)

Mr. Moin Qureshi (18 July 1993-19 October 1993), a retired World Bank official, was appointed as the Caretaker Prime Minister as per the agreement reached between the stakeholders. Mr. Waseem Sajjad, the Senate Chairman took over as the acting President. At the time of his appointment, Moin Qureshi was residing in the US for the last many years and people of Pakistan hardly knew him. It was, however, felt that as he was a political outsider, he would remain neutral. Despite the fact, Moin Qureshi was appointed caretaker Prime Minister with the consent of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, he was not satisfied with the neutrality of Qureshi Government and expressed dissatisfaction after he lost the election. In general, the election was perceived as relatively free and fair.

Federal Caretaker Cabinet (From 18-7-1993 to 19-10-1993)
1. Mr. Moeen Qureshi (Prime Minister)
2. Mr. Fateh Khan Bandial (Interior & Narcotics Control, Inter Provincial Coordination)
3. Mr. Ahmad Faruque (Communications and Railways)
4. Syed Babar Ali (Finance & Economic Affairs, Planning & Development)
5. Lt. Gen. (Retd) Mohammad Shafiq (Education, Science & Technology Population Welfare, Special Education and Social Welfare, Health, Kashmir Affairs and Northern Affairs)
6. Mr. Abdul Sattar (Foreign Affairs)
7. Mr. Nisar A. Memon (Information, SAFRON, Management Services, Culture (Addl. Charge)
8. Mr. Ali Khan Junejo (Food, Agriculture & Cooperatives, Local Government & Rural Development, Housing and Works)
9. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) R. D. Bhatti (Petroleum & Natural Resources, Production and Defence Production)
10. Mr. Justice (Retd) Abdul Shakurul Salam (Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs, Religious Affairs and Minorities Affairs)
11. Dr. Hafiz A. Pasha (Commerce and Tourism)
12. Dr. D. K. Riaz Baloch (Industries, Labour, Manpower & Overseas Pakistanis, Women Development and Youth Affairs)
13. Mr. Khursheed K. Marker (Water and Power)

President Farooq Leghari dissolved the National Assembly on November 5, 1996 and dismissed the government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Malik Meraj Khalid (5 November 1996- 17 February 1997), Rector of the International Islamic University, was appointed as the caretaker Prime Minister. The next elections were scheduled for February 3, 1997. Malik Meraj Khalid held the office of caretaker Prime Minister from November 5, 1996, to February 17, 1997. PPP perceived the caretaker government a group of Anti- PPP persons and accused them of rigging the election after PPP lost the election. In conclusion, the experience of Pakistani care-taker governments has not been very satisfactory, primarily because the caretaker governments were mostly appointed by the Presidents in their own discretion.

Federal Caretaker Cabinet (From 5-11-96 to 17-2-97)
1. Malik Meraj Khalid (Prime Minister)
2. Mr. Shahid Hamid (Defence, Establishment Division, Ministry of Law, Justice, Human Rights and Parliamentary Affairs)
3. Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan (Foreign Affairs)
4. Mr. Omar Khan Affridi (Interior, Narcotics Control and Federal Investigation, SAFRON, Kashmir Affairs)
5. Syeda Abida Hussain(Education, Science and Technology, Culture, Sports and Tourism, Social Welfare & Special Education, Women Development & Youth Affairs)
6. Mr. Shafqat Mehmood (Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Environment, Urban Affair, Forestry and Wildlife, Environment, Local Government and Rural Development)
7. Mr. Irshad Ahmed Haqqani (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting)
8. Mr. Sadiq N. K. Awan( Industries and Production)
9. Dr. Muhammad Zubair Khan (Commerce)
10. Mr. Javed Jabbar (Petroleum and Natural Resources)
11. Mr. Fakhuruddin G. Ebrahim (Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Human Rights)
12. Mr. Faridullah Khan (Religious Affairs and Minorities Affairs)
13. Mr. Abdullah J. Memon (Water and Power)
14. Dr. Abdul Ghaffar Jatoi (Communications)
15. Mr. Muhammad Afzal Khan (Health, Population Welfare, Railway)
16. Mr. Subedar Khan Mandokhel (Housing and Works)
17. Mr. Amanullah Gichki (Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistani, Local Government and Rural Development)
18. Mr. Shahid Javed Burki (Adviser to the Prime Minister for Finance & Economic Affairs and Planning and Development with the status of Federal Minister)
20. Mr. Najam Aziz Sethi (Adviser to the Prime Minister for Political Affairs and Accountability with the status of Federal Minister)
21. Dr. Hafiz A Pasha (Adviser to the Prime Minister with the status of Federal Minister)
22. Mr. M. S. Baqir (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister with the status of MOS)
23. Mr. Pervaiz Shah (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister with the status of MOS)
24. Mr. Tikka Khan (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister with the status of MOS)

The National Assembly completed its 5-year term on November 15, 2007 and it stood dissolved at midnight of November 15 and 16. A Caretaker Government took oath on November 16, 2007 for the duration of the election period. Senator Mohammedmian Soomro (16 November 2007- 25 March 2008), Chairman of the Senate, was appointed as the Caretaker Prime Minister. A 24-member caretaker cabinet also took oath. The provision of a caretaker government at the dissolution of the National Assembly upon completion of its term was introduced in the Constitution by General Pervez Musharraf through Legal Frame Work Order 2002. Before this amendment, the elected governments were to continue even during the election period in case the Assemblies completed their term or the Prime Minister (Chief Minister in the case of Provincial Assemblies) advised the dissolution of the assembly. Although the Constitution does not expressly state so, the spirit of a caretaker government is that it should be neutral – otherwise there is no point in inducting a new government. Opposition parties and many political commentators had asked the President to consult the opposition and appoint a caretaker government which enjoys confidence of all major parties so that the Elections become more credible. Most of the political experts claimed that the make-up of the caretaker governments installed by General Musharraf, in his discretion, at the centre and the four provinces, clearly indicates that these are not neutral caretaker governments. The induction of caretaker governments has certainly not enhanced the credibility of the coming Elections. Almost all major opposition parties have rejected the caretaker governments.

Federal Caretaker Cabinet (From 16-11-2007 to 25-3-2008)
1. Mohammedmian Soomro (Prime Minister)
2. Shahzada Alam Monnoo (Commerce, Textile Industry)
3. Barrister Habib ur Rahman (Communication)
4. Mr. Sikandar Hayat Jogezai (Culture, Sports)
5. Mr. Salim Abbas Jilani (Defence, Defence Production)
6. Dr. Salman Shah (Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs and Statistics)
7. Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha(Education, Science & Technology)
8. Syed Wajid H. Bukhari (Environment, Local Government and Rural Development)
9. Prince Isa Jan (Food, Agriculture and Livestock)
10. Mr. Inam ul Haque (Foreign Affairs)
11. Mr. Ejaz Rahim (Health)
12. Mr. Nisar Mohammad Khan (Housing and Works)
13. Mr. Ansar Burney (Human Rights)
14. Mr. Salman Taseer (Industries, Production and Special Initiatives)
15. Mr. Nisar A. Memon 9Information and Broadcasting)
16. Dr. Abdullah Riar (Information Technology)
17. Mr. Hamid Nawaz Khan (Interior, Narcotics Control)
18. Dr. Mohammad Amjad (Inter Provincial Coordination)
19. Mr. Abbas Sarfaraz Khan (KANA, Frontier Regions)
20. Mr. Nisar Ghuman Labour, (Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis)
21. Syed Afzal Haider (Law and Justice, Parliamentary Affairs)
21. Raja Tridiv Roy (Minorities)
22. Mr. Ahsan Ullah Khan (Petroleum and Natural Resources)
23. Dr. A. J. Khan (Population Welfare)
24. Dr. Fahim Ansari (Ports and Shipping)
25. Mr. Mansoor Tariq (Railways)
26. Khawaja Attaullah Taunsa Sharif (Religious Affairs, Zakat and Ushr)
27. Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif (Tourism, Youth Affairs)
28. Mr. Tariq Hameed (Water and Power)
29. Barrister Shahida Jamil (Women Development, Social Welfare & Sp. Education)
30. Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada (Honorary Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Law, Justice and Human Rights with the status of Senior Federal Minister)
31. Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman (Adviser to the Prime Minister with the status of Federal Minister)
32. Mr. Khalil-ur-Rehman (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister with the status of Federal Minister)
33. Dr. Samar Mubarakmand (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Science and Technology with the status of Federal Minister)
34. Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Strategic Programme with the status of Federal Minister)
35. Mr. Amar Lal (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister with the status of Federal Minister)
36. Mr. Muhammad Yasin Malik (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister with the status of Federal Minister)

13th National Assembly is going to complete its five-year constitutional tenure on March 16, 2013, and according to the Constitutional mandate, elections for the next parliament must be held within 60 days after the dissolution of parliament. Under constitutional obligations it is the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly who would finalise a neutral person for the slot of the caretaker Prime Minister. While in the provinces, the incumbent chief minister in consultation with leader of the opposition will appoint the caretaker Chief Minister.

The government and the opposition are contemplating arrangement that would pave the way for a smooth process of appointment of the caretaker setup as well elections of the national and provincial assemblies on the same day. In such circumstances, though not constitutional bounding, yet it is necessary to dissolve all the assemblies on the same day so as to pave the way for holding the general elections for both National Assembly and the provincial assemblies on the same day. As far as the name of the Caretaker Prime Minister is concerned, many names have come to light and more names are yet to be covered up.

If the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition fail to reach a consensus on candidate for the caretaker slot, then the Article 224-A of the Constitution says: “In case the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing National Assembly do not agree on any person to be appointed as the caretaker Prime Minister, within three days of the dissolution of the National Assembly, they shall forward two nominees each to a Committee to be immediately constituted by the Speaker of the National Assembly, comprising eight members of the outgoing National Assembly, or the Senate, or both, having equal representation from the Treasury and the Opposition, to be nominated by the prime minister and the leader of the opposition respectively.”

In mature democracies, an elected government continues as the caretaker government during elections without anybody suspecting any wrongdoing at the hand of the caretaker government. In such democracies, election management bodies have sufficient independence and powers to ensure free and fair election without any fear of interference by the government. In such cases, it does not matter who is running the caretaker government as the established norms and institutions guard against any possibility of interference by the government or for that matter anyone. India is one good example of such democracies where Election Commission becomes a virtual caretaker government during the election time and no neutral caretaker government is inducted for the election.

With the passage of time, it has been proved that the Pakistani nation is now able to climbing the stairs of democracy. And the day is not far away when the referees of the power’s game will prove their impartiality through neutral act and unbiased behavior. Like democratic and civilized countries, the loser of the election will have to accept defeat and to welcome the winner with open heart and mind for good of our nation.