Caretaker PM says election schedule should be announced by Dec 14

Anwaarul Haq Kakar rejects allegations of not providing level playing field to all parties ahead of polls n Says popularity of any political leader will be judged through elections n Orders emergency polio eradication plan for high-risk areas.


ISLAMABAD  -  Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said Wednesday that the na­tion should not have any doubts about the general elections to be held on February 8, 2024.

“I have no doubt about it... The concerns are of­ten associated with our political system. We have a history of our own,” he remarked in an interview with Indepen­dent Urdu. The prime minister expressed the hope that the elections would be held in free and fair manner.

To a question, he said he did not consider the general elections of the 70s as a benchmark ei­ther as many people had different opinions about those polls. “Of course, they were very trans­parent. At that time, it was already decided be­fore the elections which way they would go to, so I consider it a problem,” he added.

He said as the arrangements were in place, and he was hopeful that the caretaker gov­ernment would be able to give results in a relatively better way. The prime minister said that he endorsed the Election Commission’s denial of any de­lay in the polls. “They (Elec­tion Commission) have to con­duct (elections). We are with them.” He said as per the Elec­tion Commission, the election schedule will cover 56 days, based on which the schedule should be announced by De­cember 14. Asked about the no­tions of elections being associ­ated with the decline in Imran Khan’s popularity and his ex­clusion from the electoral pro­cess, the prime minister termed it a political analysis. However, the elections would judge the popularity of any political lead­er, he commented. To a question about the participation of Imran Khan or his party in the gener­al elections, he said that there was no restriction on him as yet. “However, if something un­usual comes up, I can’t say any­thing about it . As of today, they are in a position to contest elec­tions and they will contest.”

About the disappearances and resurfacing of PTI leaders, the prime minister said such people went into hiding, fearing arrest for their involvement in attacks on state institutions on May 9. He said while in hiding, they would have second thought to leave PTI or politics which was their personal decision.

He said that no evidence of ‘state coercion’ had come to his knowledge, and even none of those people had spoken of ‘state coercion’. Until then, it’s just allegations, he added. 

Prime Minister Kakar dis­agreed with the view that the decision of May 9 arson should be left to the people for elec­tions. He also rejected the al­legations of not having a level playing field. Coming to the eco­nomic situation, he expressed his satisfaction with his govern­ment’s efforts so far to improve the national economy. “They will leave the blueprint for the rest of the work to the next gov­ernment,” he remarked. 

Discussing the PIA, he rub­bished the allegations of any malpractice in privatisation process and said such conspira­torial assumptions had brought the country to that extent. He said that expert advisors had been appointed for privatiza­tion. “These are not union lev­el talks. Best practices are being implemented. They will advise in accordance with the global market trend. They can be au­dited even 50 years from now,” the prime minister said.

Discussing the repatriation of illegal foreigners from Pakistan, he said those having no trav­el documents would have to go back, though they might be back after obtaining the visa. 

In response to a question re­garding the phased evacuation, Prime Minister Kakar said that it was the discretionary pow­er of the government. We be­lieve that it needed to be done at once to show the seriousness of the government,” he remarked.

To a question, he told the in­terviewer that there had been no formal negotiations with the Afghan Taliban at present. “Our policy regarding TTP is clear. We consider them as an enemy of this society and state. We be­lieve that fighting them is our survival, and we will fight till the last extent for the survival of this state,” he added. 

He denied the impression that Pakistan had any role in the Af­ghan Taliban’s return to power. 

Coming to the Israeli aggres­sion on Gaza, the prime minister said a lot could have been done, but Pakistan was still trying to establish an immediate cease­fire and humanitarian corridor. There is always something that can be improved, he remarked. 

He said that if the world had stood with the OIC and other countries, the pressure on Is­rael could have been increased. He said on the sidelines of the COP 28 in Dubai, he discussed the issue in detail with the King of Jordan, US Senator Kerry, Muhammad bin Zayed and the Crown Prince of Kuwait.

Prime Minister Kakar ex­pressed the fear that if contin­ued, the Israeli aggression could also impact the entire Gulf and the world. About the rumours in the country about establishing relations with Israel before Oc­tober 7, he said that no such dis­cussion was ever made at any level within the government. 

Prime Minister Kakar, who re­cently returned after attend­ing the COP 28, said that funds under Loss and Damage Fund were yet to be allocated.


Caretaker Prime Minister An­waarul Haq Kakar on Wednes­day directed formulation of an emergency polio eradication plan and launch of integrated programmes in high-risk union councils. Chairing a meeting on Task Force on Polio Eradication, he emphasized monitoring of polio vaccination campaigns by using modern technology.

Expressing the recent report of police cases, the prime minis­ter regretted that the crippling disease, which was eradicated from the globe, still existed in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

PM Kakar said regarding the use of Inactivated Polio Virus (IPV) vaccine, best international practices and research needed to be taken into consideration.

He directed resumption of the regular polio immunization campaign across the country. 

The prime minister lauded the efforts of international commu­nity and development partners in polio eradication. 

He mentioned that enhanced cooperation on polio eradication was agreed upon in a meeting with Bill Gates, the co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the sidelines of Conference of Parties (COP28). The prime min­ister stressed including teachers, scholars and parents for raising awareness on polio eradication. Terming polio vaccine vital for the health, growth and future of children, he said all segments of the society needed to play their role in polio eradication. 

He directed holding an Ulema Convention and taking on­board scholars to raise aware­ness on the issue. The meeting was informed that special polio health camps had been set up in the high-risk zone of Dera Is­mail Khan, while the same were being established in the vul­nerable areas of Bannu, Lak­ki Marwat and Tank. In the re­cent polio awareness drives, 44 million children have been ad­ministered vaccine. It was high­lighted that Punjab, Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan are polio-free, whereas some union councils in the southern Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa are more affected. The meeting was told that the polio teams are administering vaccine to the children at the illegal Af­ghan repatriation camps at Pe­shawar, Nowshera and Chaman. The meeting was attended by interim federal health minister Dr Nadeem Jan, caretaker chief minister KP Justice (retired) Ar­shad Hussain Shah, senior of­ficials of National Task Force, chief secretaries and officials of law enforcement agencies.

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