Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza on Friday refused to administer the oath to newly appointed members of the Election Commission of Pakistan, informed sources told DawnNewsTV.
Earlier on Thursday, President Dr Arif Alvi had appointed Khalid Mahmood Siddiqui and Munir Ahmad Khan Kakar as ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan, respectively.
The commissioner has formally informed the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs about his decision. He cited a violation of Article 213 and 214 of the Constitution in the process of the two appointments as the basis for his decision.
Later in the day, PPP leader Raza Rabbani lauded the chief election commissioner for his decision. He said that Justice Raza has prevented a violation of the Constitution. He said that the decision against administrating the oath was in line with the Constitution and that the decision would uphold the credibility of the ECP.
The ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan — Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch — had retired in January and, under the law, the positions were to be filled within 45 days.
In March this year — after the government had already missed the deadline of making the appointments — the prime minister had sent three names for each of the vacancies to Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif.
After several exchanges of nominations and amendments of the lists, the government and the opposition had exchanged lists of their final nominees during a meeting of the parliamentary panel on the appointment of ECP members held on June 14. The committee then held a meeting on June 19 with the aim to finalise one name each from Sindh and Balochistan for ECP members.
However, no consensus could be developed and the issue remained in a deadlock, with both the government and the opposition insisting on having a member of their choice from Sindh and giving the right to pick a member from Balochistan to the other.
Though the Constitution is silent on the way forward in case of such a stalemate in the parliamentary committee with equal representation of the government and the opposition, both sides have already hinted at approaching the Supreme Court on the issue.