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Shahbaz says 'no' to written correspondence on ECP nominations

Updated March 28, 2019

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The letter was written by the director to the opposition leader, Munib Ali Phulputo, and addressed to the premier's secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan. — AFP/File
The letter was written by the director to the opposition leader, Munib Ali Phulputo, and addressed to the premier's secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan. — AFP/File

The office of the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday said a letter to him from Prime Minister Imran Khan, which suggested three nominations each for the vacant posts for members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Balochistan and Sindh, did not adhere to the "intent and spirit of the Constitution".

The response, written by the director to the opposition leader, Muhib Ali Phulputo, and addressed to the premier's secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, added that an earlier letter written to Sharif on the matter from the Foreign Minister's Office on Mar 11 was also in "violation of the relevant articles of the Constitution".

The response from the opposition leader's office comes after PMO sent a letter to Sharif suggesting three nominations for the vacancies. The deadline set by the Constitution for the purpose was already missed earlier this month.

The reply added that continuing vacancies in the positions due to a delay in the process of consultation were in violation of Article 215(4) of the Constitution.

The letter written to Sharif from the PM Office, a copy of which was available with Dawn, revealed that the government had withdrawn the previous nominations that had been sent to the opposition leader through the office of the foreign minister and new names had now been suggested for the two vacant constitutional posts.

The prime minister 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.

He had 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 response from Sharif's office today noted that in the latest letter, the candidates proposed were different than those proposed in a letter by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who had been earlier nominated for the consultation process.