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Former chief justice to rule Pakistan in run-up to general elections

The file photo shows former Pakistani chief justice Nasir-Ul-Mulk.

Pakistan has appointed former chief justice Nasir-ul-Mulk as caretaker prime minister until general elections scheduled to be held on July 25.

The announcement was made by incumbent Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during a press conference, which was also attended by Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, who led talks for the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). 

The announcement came after six weeks of deadlock between Abbasi’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and several opposition parties over deciding on a candidate for the position of caretaker prime minister.

Abbasi told reporters that parties had agreed on a candidate who "no one can object to."  

“No Pakistani can lift a finger (against) such a name,” he said.

The PPP’s Shah expressed hope that Mulk would successfully conduct free, fair and impartial elections in Pakistan on July 25. 

Mulk, who also served as the interim chief of the Election Commission of Pakistan, will head a technocratic government for a two-month period after the current government and parliament are dissolved on Thursday.

Mulk, 67, is expected to be sworn in June 1. 

The present government will complete the tenure on May 31 and the interim government will remain in office until a new government is set up through elections. 

This file photo shows Pakistan's incumbent Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (L) with opposition leader Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah.

The interim administration does not usually make any major decisions until the new government is elected.

The developments also come as allegations of interference by the coup-prone military are rife ahead of the election, with the PML-N accusing the military of trying to weaken it. The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since independence in 1947, denies meddling in politics.

The main challenge to the ruling PML-N, which has been weakened since the Supreme Court ousted its founder Nawaz Sharif, is expected to come from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party headed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

Khan, who has risen to prominence on an anti-graft agenda, has promised to clean up government in his first 100 days in office.

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