Former chief justice Nasirul Mulk was named as the caretaker prime minister on Monday.
The announcement was made by Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah at a press conference in Islamabad following a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
Shah was accompanied by Abbasi and National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq at the press conference.
PM 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,” PM Abbasi said. “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.”
The premier thanked 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,” PM Abbasi said, requesting Khursheed Shah 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, retired Justice 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.
Today’s announcement comes after weeks of deadlock between the PML-N and the opposition over the name of the caretaker PM.
It was earlier reported that the name of the caretaker PM would be announced on May 22, but that ‘deadline’ lapsed, like many before it, with both leaders promising more deliberations in the next few days or so.
Despite a number of meetings over a period of six weeks, the lack of consensus between both parties appeared to persist, with many believing the issue would be sent to a parliamentary committee for deliberation.
There were reports that both the government and the opposition wanted the name to be kept under wraps for “as long as possible to avoid unnecessary debate in the media on the issue.”
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had warned that if the name wasn’t announced within three days of the government’s dissolution, a bipartisan committee of lawmakers would be created to resolve the matter within three days.
If that committee was also unsuccessful, the matter would have been referred to the ECP, which would then pick a name of its own choosing.
Nasirul Mulk: politically neutral?
Retired Justice 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.
His father, Kamran Khan, was a businessman known for his philanthropic work in Swat. Mulk is fond of playing golf and is often seen taking a walk in the Margalla hills.
The now-retired Mulk practised as an Advocate in all fields of Law for more than 17 years until his elevation as a judge of the Peshawar High Court. He remained PHC chief justice for some time before his elevation as a judge of the Supreme Court.
When he 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 interjected court proceedings with questions to the counsel unless necessary. A judge who never lost his temper, he extended equal opportunity to the 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 S.A. Rehman commented at the time.
“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 has also delivered lecturers in Khyber Law College, Peshawar and Peshawar University besides delivering lectures as a guest speaker at the N.W.F.P. Provincial Services Academy, Peshawar.
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 retired Gen 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.
Justice Mulk 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 has always stood firm as a result of which a number of disappeared persons have 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 enrolment 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 Rs650 million.