Why care takers?

With the government ready to finish its five-year term on May 31, the general election is about to happen. This means that on the night of May 31, the parliament will be dissolved and the country will enter essentially the mode of preparation of elections, which are scheduled for July 25.

On May 28, the government and the opposition finalized the name of former President of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Nasirul Mulk, as acting prime minister.

In Pakistan, instead of the elected government adopting the “interim mode” once its term is over, as is the norm all over the world, unelected officials are appointed to form an interim caretaker government to oversee the affairs.

According to a report by Democracy Reporting International (DRI), a nonprofit organization that claims to promote political participation of citizens, the responsibility of state agencies and the development of democratic institutions around the world, Pakistan is the only country democratic approach that adopts this method of preparation the elections.

The interim cabinet in Pakistan has one main job: to create an environment conducive to free and fair elections in the country.

Apart from this, the Provisional Government is also responsible for carrying out the routine functions of the government and ensuring that Pakistan does not stop in time between the dissolution of parliament and the oath of a new government. The caregiver’s configuration must be impartial and has no political affiliation so that he / she does not attempt to interfere in the electoral process or

The question of the government at the time of the elections has become the main problem of confrontation in Pakistan’s politics. Therefore, this article attempts to describe how elections are conducted in established democracies. What types of governments are there in these countries during the elections? Is there a provisional government?

According to Carl J. Fredrick,

“Mr. Churchill, the ex-prime minister of UK, had formed the non-party caretaker government, for the first time, in the world and conducted a general election in 1945 in Britain to manage an unprecedented emergency, which occurred as a result of the collapse of France and danger of immanent invasion.”

The “guardian” government still existed in the United Kingdom. In accordance with the 2011 fixed-term mandate law, the parliament automatically dissolves at 12:01 am on March 30, which is 25 working days before a general election. This pre-election period is known as “purdah”, which is used by central and local governments to describe the period immediately preceding elections or referendums.

In Australia, during elections, the outgoing government becomes a “guardian”. In Australian political and constitutional terminology, an interim government is a government for a period that begins when parliament is dissolved.

“The caretaker period begins at the time the House of Representatives is dissolved and continues until the election result is clear or, if there is a change of government, until the new government is appointed.” 

Like the United Kingdom and Australia, there is an “interim” government practice in New Zealand. Its Cabinet Manual suggests that governments choose to restrict their actions to some extent during the period of about three months before the election or from the date an election is announced, within three months of the election date.

In India, the government at the time of the dissolution of Lok Sabha usually continues until the end of the electoral process and the new government is ready to take over. Article 75 of the Constitution of India allows ministers, including the Prime Minister, to stay for six months without being a member of either chamber. The Indian Supreme Court stated that:

“Apart from the technical difficulty of carrying out the many details of a general election in such a situation the President might have to dismiss the Ministry and install a caretaker government to co-operate with him in ordering a general election”.

Now, what are the elections like in these countries? Are there questions of credibility of elections in the UK, Australia, the Netherlands and New Zealand as a question arises in Pakistan? Research and evidence show that elections in these countries are conducted in accordance with “international standards” and are “free from corruption, intimidation and other abuses”.

Article 224 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan stipulates that general elections must be held within 60 days of the expiry of the Assembly’s term of office and that an Acting Prime Minister must be appointed by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition of the outgoing National Assembly. The interim cabinet members are in turn appointed in consultation with the Acting Prime Minister. So we can say that the current PML (N) government will continue for more than 60 days?

The main mandate of the interim government is to ensure free and fair elections in the country. The caretaker government is neither planned nor specifically mandated to make major political decisions.

However, in the absence of a clear framework for the interim government’s mandate and given the many internal and external challenges that Pakistan faces, the interim cabinet should be on guard even if it makes no decision at all long term.

An interim government is a big question mark in a country like Pakistan that we know and we believe that the next interim government is under the influence of the current government. The result we see many ages, we can meet international standards, but intentionally we will not do it. The only thing we can do is pray for this election, 2018 conducted free and fair.

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