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PM wants selection of two ECP members without consultation: Shahbaz

Updated March 21, 2019

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Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif writes to NA Speaker calling the process ‘unconstitutional’. — AFP/File
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif writes to NA Speaker calling the process ‘unconstitutional’. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan wants the appointment of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan to be made without fulfilling mandatory constitutional requirement of consultation with opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif.

This was claimed in a letter written to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser by the opposition leader, a copy of which is available with Dawn.

The letter said that the opposition leader received a notice on March 11, seeking to propose three names each for members of the ECP from Sindh and Balochistan.

“With reference to the notice dated March 11, 2019, the referral of three names to the parliamentary committee for the appointment of the Election Commission of Pakistan members from Balochistan and Sindh is a violation of Article 213, clause (2A) of the Constitution as the Prime Minister has failed to consult Leader of the Opposition on the issue,” the letter said. “The meeting of the said parliamentary committee cannot be called till the required consultative process as enshrined in the Constitution has been completed”, it added.

Opposition leader writes to NA Speaker calling the process ‘unconstitutional’

Under Articles 213 and 218 of the Constitution, the prime minister in consultation with the opposition leader forwards three names for the appointment of a CEC or commission member to a parliamentary committee for hearing and confirmation of one name.

In case a consensus cannot be reached between the prime minister and the opposition leader, the law says that each will forward separate lists to the parliamentary committee for finalisation of names.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had constituted a bipartisan parliamentary committee for the appointment of chief election commissioner (CEC) and ECP members even before the retirement of the two members. The 12-member committee had also elected Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari as its chairperson. However, the parliamentary panel can act only after it receives either consensus or separate lists from the prime minister and opposition leader.

Members from Sindh and Balochistan Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch had retired on January 26 and their replacements under the constitution should have been appointed by March 12.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2019