No coun­try for old men?

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Rahimul­lah Yusufzai

BY choos­ing Jus­tice (r) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, aged 83 and a half years, as the care­taker prime min­is­ter, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Pak­istan has added an­other mem­ber to the ‘club of el­ders’ that is go­ing to rule and de­cide the coun­try’s fate in the in­terim pe­riod be­fore the elected government is in­stalled by June 2013.

To have el­derly and hopefully wise per­sons run­ning the coun­try could be re­as­sur­ing in th­ese dif­fi­cult times.

The Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner Jus­tice (r) Fakhrud­din G Ebrahim, turned 85 on Fe­bru­ary 12, 2013 and is thus older than Khoso. As it ap­peared on tele­vi­sion, he had dif­fi­culty remembering and pro­nounc­ing Khoso’s full name while an­nounc­ing his se­lec­tion to the me­dia, and had to be helped by Elec­tion Com­mis­sion mem­bers Jus­tice (r) Fa­zlur Rah­man from Balochis­tan and Jus­tice (r) Shahzad Ak­bar Khan from Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa.

How­ever, his ad­vanced years haven’t pre­vented him un­til now from dis­charg­ing his du­ties re­spon­si­bly and grace­fully. His old age was cited as the rea­son for him be­ing un­fit for the job when Shahid Orakzai, a jour­nal­ist who has turned into a peren­nial lit­i­gant in mat­ters of pub­lic in­ter­est, chal­lenged his ap­point­ment in the Supreme Court last July by ar­gu­ing that the work of the chief elec­tion com­mis­sioner was hec­tic and la­bo­ri­ous. As has hap­pened in al­most all the cases pursed by him, Orakzai failed to se­cure a favourable judge­ment from the judges.

Hav­ing re­tired from ser­vice, the other four mem­bers of the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion are also old, cer­tainly in their late 60s if not older with Jus­tice (r) Riaz Kayani be­ing the old­est. Two of the three care­taker chief min­is­ters al­ready named are judges, hav­ing re­tired af­ter at­tain­ing su­per­an­nu­a­tion. Sindh care­taker Chief Min­is­ter Jus­tice (r) Zahid Qur­ban Alvi is 72 years old, while Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa care­taker Chief Min­is­ter Jus­tice (r) Tariq Pervez is 65 years old.

The Balochis­tan care­taker Chief Min­is­ter Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai is rel­a­tively young at 59 years old, hav­ing re­tired from government ser­vice af­ter serv­ing for 22 years in the health de­part­ment as a doc­tor. In fact, he also served in the care­taker government formed prior to the 2008 gen­eral elec­tion as a pro­vin­cial min­is­ter in Balochis­tan. He is stated to be apo­lit­i­cal and thus suit­able for the job, but be­ing a ‘veteran’ care­taker was an added qual­i­fi­ca­tion for him to se­cure the job of care­taker chief min­is­ter. Most of the nine care­taker min­is­ters named in the Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa cab­i­net are also re­tired bu­reau­crats and, there­fore, old.

The choice of Khoso as care­taker prime min­is­ter by the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion’s five mem­bers, all re­tired judges, also showed that those as­so­ci­ated with the ju­di­ciary are in the driv­ing seat in present-day Pak­istan. Though there were four can­di­dates, the fron­trun­ners were both former judges. In the end, Khoso got four votes and his main ri­val, Jus­tice (r) Nasir As­lam Zahid, ob­tained one from the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion’s Pun­jab mem­ber, Riaz Kayani. The politi­cian, Ra­sool Bakhsh Palejo and the banker, Dr Ishrat Hus­sain, didn’t get any vote from the five judges sit­ting in judge­ment as the chief elec­tion com­mis­sioner and mem­bers of the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion.

In fact, all four can­di­dates for the care­taker prime min­is­ter’s of­fice were old. The youngest among them was Dr Ishrat Hus­sain, stated to be 74 years old and de­scribed by PPP leader Syed Khur­shid Shah as the only ‘young man’ in the list. Dr Ishrat Hus­sain looks even younger than his age and is quite en­er­getic.

To his bad luck, the PML-N peo­ple who op­posed his can­di­da­ture didn’t seem to have read his ar­ti­cles or heard his com­ments on tele­vi­sion in which he had criti- cised the eco­nomic poli­cies and per­for­mance of the PPP-led coali­tion government. It ap­pears they had to op­pose him be­cause his name was pro­posed by the PPP or that he had served as the State Bank gov­er­nor dur­ing Gen­eral Pervez Mushar­raf’s rule.

Palejo, who had the least chance of mak­ing it to the Prime Min­is­ter House due to strong op­po­si­tion by the PPP and was re­port­edly pro­posed by the PML-N to ap­pease the Sindhi na­tion­al­ists, was the old­est at 87. In fact, his name should not have been pro­posed at all, as he is in pol­i­tics de­spite his age and has for years been a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent of the PPP in Sindh. Though his son, Ayaz Latif Palejo, has re­placed him as head of the Awami Tehreek, the el­der Palejo con­tin­ues to make po­lit­i­cal speeches and voice his strong views on a host of is­sues.

Nasir As­lam Zahid, the sec­ond PMLN nom­i­nee for the job, is 84 years old. He was un­lucky not to get ei­ther of the two

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