Retd judge is Pak caretaker PM

Rezaul H Laskar

Pakistan's caretaker premier-designate Mir Hazar Khan Khoso on Sunday listed the fragile law and order situation and holding of free and fair elections as the top priorities of the new interim administration.

"My first priority is holding free and fair polls," the 84-year-old former judge told the media shortly after he was chosen as the caretaker Prime Minister by the Election Commission Sunday afternoon.

"The administration will try to ensure that the law and order situation is good (for the polls)," Khoso, who is known for honesty, said when he was asked to list his priorities. He described the upcoming elections, the law and order situation and Pakistan's financial position as the biggest challenges facing the interim set-up.

Khoso, a former Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court and Federal Shariah Court, was chosen as the caretaker premier by the Election Commission after the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition and a bipartisan parliamentary committee were unable to forge consensus on the issue.

Khoso said: "Inshallah, the polls will be held on time. The law and order situation is bad and I will work with the (caretaker provincial) Chief Ministers to improve law and order." Khoso said his interim Cabinet would have about a dozen members. "The cabinet will have as many members as necessary. But it will not be very large. There will be about 12 to 13 members," he said.

Khoso asserted that the polls would be held on time and the term of the caretaker set-up would not be extended under any circumstances.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Khoso would take oath as the caretaker Prime Minister on Monday.

President Asif Ali Zardari welcomed Khoso's nomination saying: "The forthcoming general election under a neutral caretaker set-up and an independent and empowered Election Commission... for the first time in the country's history was a very significant and welcome development that should help in banishing the spectre of manipulated power transfer."

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