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Pakistan’s ex-top judge to become interim prime minister

Nasir-ul-Mulk was selected by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party and the opposition and he will remain in the role until an election within 60 days

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 3:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 8:38pm

Pakistan’s former chief justice Nasir-ul-Mulk was expected to be sworn in as the caretaker prime minister for a period of two months on Friday, hours after the president dissolved the lower house of parliament.

It is only the third time in Pakistan’s history that the National Assembly finished its five-year term. The constitution mandates new elections within 60 days.

Mulk, who has a reputation as a defender of democratic institutions, will run the interim government pending results of July 25 vote.

Incumbent Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi resigned at midnight on Thursday, ending his turbulent tenure since July 2017 when he replaced Nawaz Sharif following his removal from office by the Supreme Court for concealing financial assets abroad.

Sharif now faces trial over corruption.

Mulk was selected by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party and the opposition on Monday.

The electoral process will begin on Sunday with the filing of nomination papers for the seats at the National Assembly and provincial assemblies. Candidates have until June 6 to register. The winning party will name the next prime minister.

Abbasi, in his last speech to lawmakers on Thursday, said his Pakistan Muslim League party will oppose any delay in the elections.

Sharif, too, has asked people to vote for the league so the new parliament with help from legislation could reverse the decision of the judges that disqualified him. He has openly criticised the judges, saying they removed him from power on a trivial charge.

Abbasi has defended Sharif, saying he was serving the nation when the judiciary threw him out. It was unclear why Sharif’s party proposed Mulk to run the interim government despite having uneasy relations with the judges.

Mulk served as Pakistan’s chief justice from 2014 to 2015.

Almost all of Pakistan’s political parties welcomed Mulk’s nomination, including Imran Khan, the country’s popular opposition leader and former cricket star who aspires to become prime minister at the July elections.

Khan has been leading rallies and fighting legal battles against the Pakistan Muslim League since 2013.