Nasir-ul-Mulk Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Pakistan’s former chief justice Nasir-ul-Mulk was named as the caretaker prime minister on Monday till general elections are held on July 25.

The announcement was made at a press conference held by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah, which was also attended by National Assembly (NA) Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

“We discussed several names and all of them were credible but finally chose Nasir-ul-Mulk on merit as his name will be acceptable to everyone” Abbasi told media.

He said all names under consideration were credible and were extensively discussed. “His [Nasir-ul-Mulk’s] role as a caretaker PM will be in favour of the country and the democratic process” he said

“Today is a day of great importance in the democratic run of the country,” Abbasi said as he thanked Ayaz Sadiq for facilitating the process “in a constitutional manner”.

Making the formal announcement, Khursheed Shah explained: “We have chosen his name on the basis of merit. We took our parties into confidence and decided upon this name.” The PPP leader said that “He [Nasir-ul-Mulk] has played a historic role … in the judiciary and when he was a lawyer.” Shah hoped that “God will give him [Nasir-ul-Mulk] the passion and courage to successfully conduct free, fair and impartial elections in Pakistan on July 25, 2018.”

Shah also congratulated the government as it is expected to conclude its five-year term on May 31. “We are happy that the government was able to complete its five-year term,” Shah said.

The name for the coveted position was announced after weeks of deadlock between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the opposition. However, both government and opposition leaders have expressed satisfaction over selection of Mulk as caretaker PM who is seen as a neutral and competent person for the job.

The second major opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party leader, Imran Khan, also welcomed Mulk’s appointment and congratulated him.

Mulk will take over as caretaker prime minister on June 1 as the current government is expected to conclude its five-year term on May 31.

The caretaker government will hold the general elections to be held on July 25. The job of the caretaker PM is to keep the country running between the dissolution of parliament and the new government being sworn in.

The other proposed names for the position of caretaker PM included retired chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, former State Bank governor Dr Shamshad Akhtar, former minister Abdul Razzaq Daud, former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf and former ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbass Jilani.

Profile of Nasir-ul-Mulk

Nasir-ul-Mulk, 68, hails from Mingora city of north-western Swat district, a scenic touristic spot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. He completed his degree of Bar-at-Law from Inner Temple London and was called to the Bar in 1977.

Retired Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, who has been appointed as Pakistan’s 7th caretaker Prime Minister, has previously served as 22nd Chief Justice of Pakistan from 2014-15. During his short tenure, he has given four historical judgements to strengthen democratic process.

Mulk who has also rendered services as the acting Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan in 2014, holds a reputation for being politically neutral. Mulk is one of the seven judges who signed an application on Nov 3, 2007, restraining the then-Pervez Musharraf government to impose martial law in Pakistan.

He was also head of Judicial Commission who probed PTI’s charges of rigging in 2013 election. The Commission offered multiple recommendations to the Election Commission Pakistan for ensuring fair and transparent elections.