EDITORIAL: It comes as bit of a surprise, though anything can be expected in the present political scenario. As many as 19 members of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) cabinet ‘tendered’ their resignations to caretaker chief minister Azam Khan, purportedly, for having political affiliations. Five more members relinquished their positions later under threat of being denotified.
Reports, however, say the others did not step down of their own volition, but were made to do so after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) wrote a letter to Azam Khan, asking him to immediately sack his ministers, advisers and special assistants “involved in politics” to ensure free and fair polls in the province.
What seems to have spurred the ECP into action is last month’s exit of minister Shahid Khattak over “personal commitments” made known only after he had addressed a gathering organised by the Awami National Party on whose ticket he wants to contest election for a provincial assembly seat.
Prima facie, it is a principled decision on the ECP’s part. Skeptics, though, point to a noteworthy detail that the KP assembly was dissolved in January 2022 and a caretaker setup installed, raising the question, with some asperity, as to why it took the electoral body so long to realise that the majority of the caretaker cabinet members had direct or indirect relationships with certain political parties in PDM coalition government at the centre? To them, the move is an attempt to trump growing public concerns over its perceived partisanship. Anyway, belated it may be, but better late than never.
More importantly, it inspires cautious optimism that the national elections would be held under the watch of neutral caretakers.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023