It would be wise to take the caretaker government for its word when it says it is genuinely committed to conducting free polls as it did on Friday but what matters is will it really succeed in making a practical demonstration of that. Intentions and actions, after all are two different things.

Where it would not be quite alright to question the neutrality of the interim setup, generally thought to be non-aligned, the way it has been trying to deal with some initial hurdles, leaves the doubt lingering whether elections would be as fair as it says, it can hold. A bit worrisome is the case of the Deputy Governor of the State Bank who could not be given marching orders despite categorical orders by the ECP seeking his removal over fears that he being a political appointee might provide the loan defaulters with a stepping stone to contest elections as well as misuse government funds. One cannot help but ask if that is just the tip of the iceberg given the number of such politically motivated appointments made by the outgoing government both at the centre and the provincial levels. Aware of the challenge, interim Chief Minister Punjab Najam Sethi for instance is seeking out details of all such officers in the province. This has been followed by Caretaker setup’s warning to bureaucracy not to meddle in the electoral process. These troubles reflect one facet of the problem. Disappointment over the sluggish way the interim setup first announced it would form the federal cabinet only to procrastinate is also making its presence felt. Worse still, not much thought is being given to yet another eccentricity, which pertains to the rather gratuitous presence of governors. Though expected to stay out of the electoral arena in theory, these innocuous looking representatives of the federal government could turn out to be detrimental to democratic transition at hand. After all, they were appointed by their respective parties; obviously what they are most certain to do is to keep guard over their turf.

For the commitment expressed by the caretaker government to materialise, it has to first see to it that its orders or those of the ECP are considered sacrosanct and not only that they take their effect on everyone concerned. It should not duck out of a situation where it is supposed to live up to publics’ expectation. In line with expected level of integrity, mingling with leading candidates and party heads might begin to smack of partisanship all the more so when there are other issues in want of urgent attention. The caretakers will definitely have a hard time as they go about rising to the occasion. More than any other thing, it is the peoples’ will that must prevail in order to let them shape their fate and that of their country.