–PM, Opp leader says ‘no one can object to Mulk’s nomination’ as all parties welcome decision
–Political leaders hope former CJP will ensure smooth transition of power after general elections
ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and opposition on Monday reached consensus over the name of former chief justice of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk as the caretaker prime minister.
The announcement was made by Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah at a press conference following a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Shah was accompanied by Abbasi and National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq at the presser.
Abbasi spoke first, describing the agreed-upon candidate for caretaker PM as someone “who no one can object to”. “All the names under consideration were credible,” the premier said, adding that “every name was discussed, and this name was decided upon”.
“His role as a caretaker PM will be in favour of the country and the democratic process,” Abbasi said, thanking the NA speaker for facilitating the process “in a constitutional manner” and for playing a role in both parties reaching a consensus.
“Congratulations to you all,” the PM said, requesting the opposition leader to make the formal announcement.
Shah began by clarifying that “no one’s name was discarded”.
“We have chosen his name on the basis of merit. We took our parties into confidence and decided upon this name.”
“We are happy that the government was able to complete its five-year term,” Shah said, adding that the NA speaker had played a major role in both parties reaching an agreement.
“We have made a democratic decision. I am thankful to the PM [and] to the speaker for making this decision with patience, setting aside emotion. The name of the person I would like to present is very respectable,” the veteran PPP leader said.
“The name is Nasirul Mulk, who has remained a chief justice. He has played a historic role ─ in the judiciary and when he was a lawyer.”
“I am hopeful that God will give him the passion and courage to successfully conduct free, fair and impartial elections in Pakistan on July 25, 2018.”
It was earlier reported that the government had suggested the names of Mulk, Justice (r) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani — also a former chief justice — and former State Bank governor Dr Shamshad Akhtar, while the PPP had said, in the event that the matter went to a parliamentary committee, that it would propose the names of former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf and former ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbass Jilani.
The job of the caretaker PM is to keep the country running between the dissolution of parliament and the new government being sworn in.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Abbasi and Opposition Leader Shah met for the sixth time to deliberate over the matter, with the previous five ending in a deadlock.
WHO IS NASIRUL MULK?
Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk was born on August 17, 1950 in Mingora, Swat. He completed his degree of Bar-at-Law from Inner Temple London and was called to the Bar in 1977.
When Mulk took oath as the 22nd chief justice of Pakistan in 2014, members of the legal fraternity said the appointment would bring honour, dignity and quiet grace.
Why quiet grace? Because, they said, Justice Mulk seldom interjects court proceedings with questions to the counsel unless necessary. A judge who never lost his temper, he extended equal opportunity to lawyers, but was firm about not allowing the contesting sides to get sidetracked by entering the political arena.
“He is a good administrator and a disciplined judge who knows how to manage courts,” Advocate Hafiz SA Rehman commented at the time.
Mulk’s father, Kamran Khan, was a businessman known for his philanthropic work in Swat. The dapper Mulk is fond of playing golf and is often seen taking constitutionals in the Margalla hills.
“He was a teacher who had complete command of his subject and avoided controversies,” recalled a former student of Justice Mulk in the Khyber Law College of Peshawar University. “He always came into the classroom well prepared.”
He is remembered for the way he conducted a contempt case against then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
He convicted the then chief executive for 30 seconds while maintaining the dignity and honour of the court, and left the disqualification issue open to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the then speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Fehmida Mirza.
Justice Mulk is one of the seven judges who signed a restraining order on Nov 3, 2007, when Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency and forcibly sent the judges home.
Justice Mulk later joined the judiciary on Sept 20, 2008, under the Naek formula when he took a fresh oath as a judge of the Supreme Court with his seniority intact.
He dissented from a majority judgement while deciding an appeal filed by Mukhtaran Mai for the enhancement of the sentence of her rapists and against their acquittal. He partially accepted Mukhtaran Mai’s appeal by setting aside the high court’s verdict of the acquittal of the accused on April 21, 2011.
While hearing missing persons’ cases, Justice Mulk had always stood firm as a result of which a number of disappeared persons surfaced.
Justice Mulk resigned from the post of the acting chief election commissioner the day he was designated as the next chief justice.
He has also held the office of the chairman of the enrollment committee of the Pakistan Bar Council as well as the chairman of the building committee of the under-construction Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) complex being built at a staggering cost of Rs 650 million.
Justice Mulk was also heading the bench that had rejected the plea to disqualify then prime minister Nawaz Sharif for lying on the floor of the National Assembly.
He was also head of Judicial Commission which probed PTI’s rigging allegations in the 2013 election. The commission had given multiple recommendations to the Election Commission of Pakistan for ensuring fair and transparent elections.
Justice Mulk, along with two other fellow judges, accepted the task of probing rigging claims in the last general elections. All the major parties praised his conduct during the proceedings of the inquiry commission. Mulk rejected the rigging allegations after 86 days.
POLITICAL PARTIES WELCOME DECISION:
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan took to Twitter to congratulate the former chief justice moments after the decision was announced.
“Want to congratulate Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk on being appointed caretaker PM,” Imran tweeted.
Further, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said his party welcomes the decision of naming Justice (r) Mulk as caretaker premier.
“Justice (r) Mulk has an advantage as he was the head of a judicial commission probing into rigging in 2013 general elections,” Chaudhry said.
“He is aware of issues pertaining to elections,” he added.
“We hope that the implements the recommendations he gave as acting chief election commissioner to ensure the upcoming general election is transparent,” the PTI leader further said.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also took to Twitter to hail the decision.
“Moving forward for the sake of strengthening democracy—congratulations to Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk on being appointed caretaker prime minister,” he tweeted.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Sahibzada Tariq Ullah said the party accepted the name of Justice (r) Mulk as caretaker PM.
“He [Nasirul Mulk] has served as the chief justice of the Supreme Court. We hope that he will conduct free, fair and transparent elections,” the JI leader said.
Awami National Party (ANP) leader Zahid Khan said all political parties would agree on the name of Justice (r) Mulk.
The ANP leader termed this as a victory for democracy and hoped that there would be a smooth transition of power after the next elections.