ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Senator Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has been a relatively unknown figure from the southwestern Balochistan province, though he entered the political fray in 2008 and is viewed to be close to the country’s powerful military by analysts who have observed his career.
Kakar’s name was unanimously announced by the country’s outgoing PM, Shehbaz Sharif, and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Raja Riaz, on Saturday to run the interim administration ahead of the next general elections.
It is unclear for now when he will take the oath of his new office, though it is expected to happen tomorrow or the day after.
Kakar started his political career from the platform of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) party and contested election against the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, on a National Assembly seat from Quetta. He lost the contest and joined Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in 2012, though he could not secure the party ticket for the 2013 national polls.
“It’s in public knowledge that Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar is very close to the Pakistani Army and even started his political career from the establishment-backed PML-Q party,” Shahzada Zulfiqar, a senior journalist and analyst in Balochistan, told Arab News on Saturday.
Zulfiqar said that Kakar was among the founding members of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) which was widely viewed as a creation of the military establishment to rule the volatile and impoverished Balochistan province.
“It is quite obvious that he will be towing the establishment’s line and narrative,” he continued. “However, it is premature to comment on his role in conducting the national elections.”
Abdullah Zehri, another journalist from the province, said Kakar hailed from Kila Saifullah, though he got his basic education from the provincial capital of Quetta situated 135 kilometers south of his native town.
The interim prime minister did his intermediate from Cadet College Kohat and masters in sociology from the Balochistan University before moving to London.
“He was an unfamiliar face even in Quetta when he announced to contest the 2008 elections,” Zehri told Arab News. “He has never done active politics in his life, nor has he addressed any major public gathering.”
Kakar is said to be fluent in five languages, including Brahvi, Balochi, Pashto, Urdu and English.
According to Zehri, he remained associated with Balochistan Voices, a non-profit organization in the province, from 2012 to 2017 where he engaged with young students and arranged trips to different parts of the country to create a positive image of the state in their mind.
“Kakar is a pro-state person and is considered a knowledgeable individual on different dynamics of the insurgency in Balochistan,” he continued.
The caretaker prime minister was elected as senator in 2018 as an independent candidate and laid the foundations of the BAP party with other colleagues from his province.
“It is our good luck that an intellectual, upright and honest man from Balochistan is appointed as the caretaker prime minister,” Kakar’s colleague and party fellow, Senator Kauda Babar, told Arab News.
“He is a philosopher and adept at politics, international affairs and Pakistan’s internal political and security issues,” he said, adding that Kakar was also an expert on Pakistan’s border issues with Afghanistan and Iran.
“He is a complete person in many ways who always speaks the truth and focuses on his job,” he continued.
Political analysts said the caretaker premier’s actions and conduct in the coming weeks would help describe his personality and character, besides his role in holding free and fair national elections in the country.
“He has a very limited career with almost negligible political weight which can both be a liability and asset in terms of his independence and neutrality in leading the interim setup,” Dr. Hasan Askari-Rizvi, a political analyst who also served as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab in 2018, told Arab News.
“Kakar will have to depend on bureaucracy and military establishment to run the affairs of his government, in case the interim setup extends beyond the constitutional limit,” he added.
Rizvi said people would observe him closely to see if he could drop the policy of the outgoing government and the army to “hound” former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
“We will have to wait and see before commenting on his character and role as the interim prime minister,” he continued.
Adnan Rehmat, a political commentator, said it was surprising the name of the caretaker prime minister was forwarded by the opposition leader and the outgoing premier also accepted it.
“Clearly, he is not a candidate of political parties,” he said while speaking to Arab News. “He has no public record of winning any election through popular vote and was elected to the Senate as an independent candidate.”
“The fair and free elections in this polarized environment will remain a pipedream,” he added. “It seems like a large number of independents will win the upcoming elections to form the next government.”
Dr. Huma Baqai, a political analyst, said Kakar had an uncontroversial and untainted political past, though he was clearly not the choice of the ruling alliance and the opposition leader.
“He can play his role in holding free and fair elections with the help of the country’s establishment, though as per constitution his role is limited to just handling day to day affairs of the government,” she told Arab News.