Islamabad: The Centre for Civic Education (CCE) has called for a code of conduct for the upcoming caretaker government to be prepared ahead of the dissolution of the Parliament to guarantee the neutrality of the interim administration in the May elections.
The CCE has sought well defined legal boundaries to the authority of future caretaker governments to create an open and fair environment during elections. Previous caretaker governments have made major policy reforms and decisions, entered in to international agreements and have been accused of using state resources to finance political campaigning, overstretching the scope of their office and compromising the neutrality of elections.
Expressing confidence in the commands of the Constitution regarding ‘neutral caretaker set-up’ the Centre has urged that to prevent potential abuses of power a multi-party oversight committee be formed in the Senate of Pakistan. Such a committee could be modelled after the parliamentary committee for the selection of caretaker Prime Minister, to lead on drafting a new code that restricts the caretaker government to its day to day custodian duties. The code can be issued as an ordinance by the President.
Following the elections, the code could form the basis of binding limits to the power of future caretaker governments, if passed into law by the new parliament. Benchmarks on permissible policy decisions laid down in the code should contain the authority of caretaker governments. The CCE proposals include restrictions on major executive appointments, international agreements with long term consequences and full disclosure of financial information on spending and income during the caretaker’s period in office.
The CCE says: “In the absence of an elected authority, the job of a caretaker government should be limited to it what voters rightly expect – continuity and security while they make their decision on the future government of Pakistan.” By defining the boundaries of the Caretaker government we will be strengthening the whole political process and democratic culture, the Centre opined. The CCE added that the caretaker government could also offer a report on its performance at the end of its tenure.
Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director, Centre for Civic Education Cell: 0300-5008407