Pakistan finally selects caretaker PM

Pakistan Sunday finally selected a caretaker prime minister, a retired judge, to head up an interim administration to guide the country through its historic election period.

Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, 84, was selected by the election commission after a parliamentary committee and rival parties failed to agree on a candidate. He comes from the troubled southwestern province of Baluchistan.

"We have picked Mir Hazar Khan Khoso after frankly and openly discussing all the four names forwarded to us," chief election commissioner Fakhruddin Ibrahim told reporters in Islamabad.

The outgoing government had proposed Khoso and a former central bank governor, while the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N, frontrunner to win the May 11 polls, put forward the name of another retired judge and a politician.

Khoso was selected a week after parliament dissolved and four days after President Asif Ali Zardari set the date of the general election.

The vote is set to mark the first time that an elected civilian government hands over to another in a country that has seen three military coups and four military rulers since partition from India in 1947.

The announcement was made just minutes before former military ruler Pervez Musharraf landed back in Pakistan after more than four years in exile, defying Taliban death threats in a bid to contest the May election.

Militant attacks and record levels of violence directed against the Shiite Muslim minority have raised fears about security for the polls in the nuclear-armed country of 180 million.