Pakistan picks former chief justice as caretaker premier
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's ruling party and the opposition on Monday selected a former chief justice as the country's caretaker prime minister for an interim two-month period pending parliamentary elections this summer.
The government of the Pakistan Muslim League party formally ends on Thursday, when the nation's parliament will be dissolved ahead of the July 25 balloting. Whoever wins majority in parliament in that vote will name the next prime minister.
It will be only the third time in Pakistan's 70-year-long history that a parliament has finished its five-year term without political upheaval or dismissal by the military.
Outgoing Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and opposition leader Khursheed Shah announced Monday that Nasir-ul-Mulk has been appointed caretaker prime minister. Mulk will likely be sworn in on Friday.
The development comes after weeks-long deadlock on selecting a caretaker prime minister and amid the ruling party's declining popularity amid numerous scandals surrounding its former head, Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified as prime minister last year by the Supreme Court for concealing assets abroad. Sharif is currently on trial for corruption.
Prime Minister Abbasi said his side and that of opposition leader Shah had discussed all options before they "agreed on one name for the office of caretaker prime minister."
Both praised Mulk, who served as Pakistan's chief justice from 2014 to 2015, saying he was respected for his good reputation.
Imran Khan, the country's popular opposition lawmaker and former cricket star who aspires to become Pakistan's prime minister after the July elections, also welcomed Mulk's appointment.
Khan has been leading rallies and fighting legal battles against the Pakistan Muslim League since 2013.