ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has finally ‘reconsidered’ his strategy and began ‘consultation’ with Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif by suggesting to him through a letter three nominations each for the vacant posts of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Balochistan and Sindh as the deadline set by the Constitution for the purpose was already missed earlier this month.
The letter written to Mr Sharif from the PM Office, a copy of which is available with Dawn, reveals that the government has withdrawn the previous nominations that had been sent to the opposition leader through the office of the foreign minister and new names have now been suggested for the two vacant constitutional posts.
The prime minister has suggested the names of Amanullah Baloch, former district and sessions judge, Quetta; Munir Kakar, a lawyer; and Mir Naveed Jan Baloch, a businessman and former caretaker minister in the provincial government, for their nomination as a member of the ECP from Balochistan.
Imran reconsiders strategy, writes to Shahbaz
He has proposed the names of Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui, a lawyer; retired Justice Farrukh Zia Sheikh, a former judge of the Sindh High Court; and Iqbal Mehmood, retired inspector general of Sindh, for their nomination as a member of the ECP from Sindh.
The move came after criticism from the opposition as well as from legal circles over the refusal of the prime minister to hold direct mandatory consultation with the opposition leader as required under the Constitution.
The government had to face more criticism when Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi sent the nominations and that too through an additional secretary working in the foreign ministry.
Previously, the government had proposed the names of Dr Salahuddin Mengal, former advocate general for Balochistan; Mahmud Raza Khan, former additional advocate general for Balochistan; and Raja Aamir Abbasi, ex-deputy prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau, for their appointment as a member of the ECP from Balochistan.
It had proposed the names of Mohammad Nadeem Qureshi, ex-member judicial (judge of the customs appellate tribunal); retired justice Abdul Rasool Memon, former registrar of the SHC; and retired justice Noorul Haq Qureshi, a former Islamabad High Court judge from Sindh.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had expressed surprise over the government’s act of involving the foreign ministry in the appointment of ECP members apparently due to the prime minister’s reluctance to hold consultations with Shahbaz Sharif.
The opposition leader had also sent a reply through his one of the secretaries to the same official of the ministry, questioning her act of sending him the nominations.
The prime minister, in his letter to the opposition leader, however, explained that he had nominated Mr Qureshi for consultation with him and that he had sent the nominations to him on his behalf.
Responding to Mr Sharif’s letter, Mr Khan said it was “somehow misinterpreted” and the “letter of the foreign minister was meant to consult with you on behalf of the prime minister as is evident from the language of the said letters, the names were shared with you for your kind consideration”.
“Now, upon reconsideration, the prime minister has once again decided to undertake the process of consultation with yourself” as per the constitutional requirements and “a list of new proposed candidates is being forwarded for your consideration for the purpose of consultation as enshrined in the Constitution,” writes PM Khan.
When contacted, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed that the opposition leader had received a letter from the prime minister. She said Mr Sharif would respond to the letter after consulting other opposition parties. Moreover, she said that an internal meeting of the PML-N would be held on Thursday (today) to review the legal status of the letter.
Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2019