Govt, opposition hope for unanimity on new ECP members

Published June 20, 2019
A parliamentary panel on Wednesday examined resumes of nominees for the vacant positions of members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan. — AFP/File
A parliamentary panel on Wednesday examined resumes of nominees for the vacant positions of members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Wednesday examined resumes of nominees for the vacant positions of members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan.

The ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan — Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch — retired on Jan 12 and, under the law, the positions were to be filled within 45 days.

Read: ECP incomplete months after expiry of constitutional deadline

The parliamentary panel on appointment of ECP members headed by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari held an in-camera meeting on Wednesday and considered the 12 names — three each for members from Sindh and Balochistan proposed by the government and the opposition.

An in-camera meeting is private from which the press and public are excluded.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Dr Mazari said the meeting examined the lists of nominees, discussing their age and experience. She said the names of the nominees who did not fall in the required ceiling age were identified. She said the committee also decided to obtain missing information from the nominees.

Members from Sindh, Balochistan retired on Jan 12 and vacancies were to be filled within 45 days

Expressing her desire to strengthen the ECP, she hoped that best candidates would be selected with consensus by Monday (June 24), the next date set for the meeting.

She dispelled the impression that bargaining was going on over appointments between the government and the opposition.

Senator Mushahidullah Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz while talking to reporters said efforts were under way to finalise the names for the two positions that were above party interest. He said the government was being asked to keep the national interest in view.

He said the best option would be to appoint members with consensus and said those enjoying confidence of the people should be appointed. He described Wednesday’s proceedings as positive.

The government had initially proposed the names of Dr Salahuddin Mengal, 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 ECP member from Balochistan. For Sindh, the following names had been proposed: Mohammad Nadeem Qureshi, ex-member judicial (judge of the customs appellate tribunal); Justice (retd) Abdul Rasool Memon, former registrar of Sindh High Court (SHC), and Justice (retd) Noorul Haq Qureshi, a former Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge.

But the government was severely criticised when Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi sent the nominations through an additional secretary of his ministry. Later, the nominations were withdrawn and Prime Minister Imran Khan in his letter to Shahbaz Sharif proposed new names for the posts which included 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 ECP member from Balochistan. For ECP member from Sindh the following names were put forward: Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui, a lawyer, Justice (retd) Farrukh Zia Sheikh, a former judge of SHC, and Iqbal Mehmood, inspector general (retd) of Sindh.

The opposition’s amended list includes the names of three out of six nominees dropped by the government. The opposition’s nominees from Sindh — former Sindh High Court (SHC) Bar Association president Khalid Javed, former SHC judge Abdul Rasool Memon and former IHC judge Noorul Haq Qureshi — remain unchanged. Both the former judges were on the original list issued from the office of Foreign Minister Qureshi.

Read: Opposition amends list of ECP nominees

In its slightly amended list for Balochistan the opposition replaced the name of former chief justice Balochistan High Court Justice (retd) Noor Muhmmad Meskanzai with former Advocate General Balochistan Salahuddin Mengal.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2019

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