By Muhammad Tahir
ISLAMABAD, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Although the interim government that will be created in Pakistan in a week's time will focus on the holding of a free, fair and transparent elections, security will be its biggest challenge as the country still faces the ruthless Taliban militants who routinely target politicians in their terror campaign.
The Taliban offer for conditional talks with the government in early February had raised some hopes for an end to bloodshed. However, its refusal to stop attacking civilians and political figures before negotiations can start had faded hopes for achieving peace in the country.
Last month, Taliban Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan publicly threatened attacks on the leaders of three major parties, the Pakistan's Peoples Party, the Mutahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party for their support to the operation of the country's security forces against them.
Pakistan's National Assembly and the Federal Cabinet have been dissolved after they have completed their five-year constitutional term and a caretaker government will take over within one week to supervise the parliamentary elections to be held within two months.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told the nation in a televised address late Saturday that the process of consultation with the opposition is underway for a caretaker government.
The government and the main opposition, Pakistan Muslim League( PML-N), have not yet reached a consensus on the choice of a prime minister and the process will now take a little more time.
The process could even result in a deadlock since both sides have rejected each other's nominees for the post.
If both sides could not resolve the issue of the caretaker prime minister in three days, then it will be referred to an eight- member parliamentary committee with equal representation from the government and the opposition.
If the parliamentary committee again fails to come up with a consensus, then the issue would be referred to the Chief Election Commissioner who will have the final decision on the matter.
Because of security concerns, the Chief Election Commissioner has sought the help of the country's powerful army to assist the police in the holding of a peaceful and clean elections in sensitive areas.
Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has assured Pakistanis that it will provide full support to the authorities in the conduct of the elections.
Security analysts here said that dealing with continued threat of terrorism and violence is still the biggest challenge to the interim government before and during the elections.
They also said that if the interim government could not maintain peace during the elections, this could result in a failure of elections in some areas.
A tribal jirga or council of elders has already contacted the Taliban and appealed to them to give the election process a chance.
The interim government will also have to ensure a transparent and credible election since certain quarters have always cast doubts on the credibility of almost all previous elections.
New elections are scheduled to be held in May and political activities will get momentum in the coming days.
The Election Commission of Pakistan is likely to announce election schedule within a week. The commission has already printed nomination paper for the candidates.