Pakistan's caretaker prime minister chosen by the army

Developing Just Leadership

Crescent International

Muharram 27, 1445 2023-08-14

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

Anwarul Haq Kakar (second from left), the army's latest choice for the post of caretaker prime minister of Pakistan, takes his oath in the presidency on August 14.

Pakistan has a new prime minister. Let us correct that.

His official designation is "caretaker prime minister".

In the west, the word "caretaker" is usually refers to someone who does guard duty. In Urdu he would be called a chowkidar.

Perhaps, this is the right description for the new man installed in the prime ministerial seat.

His name is Anwarul Haq Kakar.

The president, Arif Alvi administered the oath of office to the new man in the presidency on August 14.

Kakar's choice as caretaker prime minister surprised most observers. His name came out of the blue

All kinds of interpretations have been offered about Kakar's choice as the caretaker.

There is also euphoria among those who dislike the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz group), popularly known by the abbreviation, PML-N, that nobody from this party or their choice was selected.

The word "selected" is appropriate.

If he is selected, then there is also a selector: the army chief who has done the selection.

We will discuss the reason for this choice but first let us look at some optics.

The caretaker prime minister took his oath dressed in tie and suit.

This is unusual since it is a tradition that the prime minister would don shalwar kameez and sherwani for the occasion.

President Arif Alvi was dressed in shalwar kameez and sherwani when he administered the oath.

The outgoing, also army-installed prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, was dressed in tie and suit as well.

Was Kakar sending a subtle message? If so, to whom: Pakistan's American masters or the British?

Some observers have suggested that Kakar's choice has to do with the fact that the army is trying to entice foreign investors to invest in Pakistan.

Kakar is from Balochistan, the mineral-rich but poverty stricken province.

Could it be that he has been selected by the selectors to facilitate the plunder of Balochistan's mineral resources in which he will also be a beneficiary?

It cannot be ruled out.

The other question is, how long will Kakar remain as caretaker prime minister?

In his press conference before he was sworn in on August 14, he was asked when elections would be held.

He evaded the question by saying the Election Commission will determine that.

This is technically true but there is widespread speculation that elections will not be held in the 90-day period as stipulated in the constitution.

This again points to the mindset of the real power-wielders in Pakistan: the army.

Army chief general Asim Munir is believed to be planning to hold elections after two or three years. In the meantime Kakar will continue as caretaker prime minister.

Why this long period? It has much to do with foreign investments and the time required to yield results.

The thinking in the army is that during this time, people will forget Imran Khan who has been sentenced to a three-year jail sentence and barred from elections for five years.

His sentence by a low level session judge has shocked the legal fraternity. The court proceedings violated every tenet of the law.

Imran Khan is languishing in Attock Jail held in a cell reserved for prisoners on death row.

Coupled with the army's hoped for economic recovery, in three years' time, the situation would have changed, or so the thinking in the army goes.

A person of their choice can then be installed in the prime minister's seat.

Will the army's traditional role of political engineering work?

Many observers are skeptical because Imran Khan's popularity continues to grow by the day. No other political leader or party comes close.

All opinion polls show that he enjoys 70-80 percent support among the masses.

If elections are held in Pakistan tomorrow, his party would win a massive majority.

That is the outcome that scares the living daylights out of the generals. They want to avoid it at all costs.

Will they succeed in their plan? If the past is any guide, they will not succeed.

In the meantime, the people of Pakistan continue to suffer with tens of thousands of Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf workers and leaders languishing in appalling conditions in jails.

Munir's hope is that Imran Khan will get tired of his travails and ultimately decide to leave the country.

The former prime minister has said he will not leave the country. He has vowed to fight to his last breath.

Given his determination, nobody should have any doubt on that score.

It is, however, for the people of Pakistan to continue the struggle for their fundamental rights.

After all, Imran Khan is fighting for their rights.

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