With the retirement of the incumbent chief election commissioner (CEC) around the corner, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has sent three recommendations for the post to Prime Minister Imran Khan, DawnNewsTV reported on Saturday.
Shehbaz, in a letter, suggested former bureaucrat Nasir Mahmood Khosa, former ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani and retired civil servant Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar as "eminently qualified" for the position.
"It is my earnest hope that the merit of these persons will be appreciated for urgent consideration in accordance with the law. Should you require any additional information/clarification, this can be made available forthwith," the letter read.
The tenure of incumbent CEC retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza ends on December 6.
The letter, which is dated November 25, was dispatched to the Prime Minister's Secretariat on Friday night according to a PML-N's spokesperson.
The recommendations are in line with Article 213 (2) (A) of the Constitution, which says: "The Prime Minister shall in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, forward three names for appointment of the Commissioner to a Parliamentary Committee for hearing and confirmation of any one person."
The PML-N president regretted that the prime minister had not reached out to seek recommendations of the opposition leader, saying that the "consultative process required under the above provision should have been initiated by [the prime minister] much earlier".
"However, in an attempt to avoid possible discontinuity in the functioning of the ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan), which is a constitutional body, I am taking the initiative after a long wait with a hope to hear from you," Shehbaz said in the letter.
He pointed out that a deadlock was created due to a lack of consultation for the appointment of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan and urged Prime Minister Imran to adopt a "consensus-oriented consultation" to appoint the next CEC.
"I would strongly urge that this time we must endeavour to avoid any such impasse by making serious, sincere and genuine effort to evolve a consensus," the letter said.
In another letter, Shehbaz sent recommendations for ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. The suggestions were sent in response to a letter from Qaiser and Sanjrani, which was sent to Shehbaz on November 5.
Shehbaz recommended Nisar Durrani, Justice (retd) Abdul Rasul Memon and Aurangzeb Haq for the post of ECP member from Sindh.
Meanwhile, for the position of ECP member from Balochistan, the opposition leader recommended Shah Mehmood Jatoi, Muhammad Rauf Atta and Rahila Durrani.
PM proposes names for ECP members
Also on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran sent his recommendations for the ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan to the NA speaker and the Senate chairman, in response to their letter dated Nov 5.
For the post of ECP member from Sindh, the premier proposed the names of retired Justice Sadiq Bhatti, retired Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Abdul Jabbar Qureshi, according to a copy of his letter.
He recommended Dr Faiz M Kakar, Mir Naveed Jan Baloch and Amanullah Baloch for the office of ECP member from Balochistan.
Who are Shehbaz's nominees for CEC?
Nasir Mahmood Khosa is a retired Grade-22 officer and former bureaucrat who has served as former federal finance secretary as well as the chief secretary of Punjab and Balochistan.
In 2013, he was appointed as the executive director at World Bank by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
In 2018, before general elections, he was nominated by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for the position of interim Punjab chief minister. He recused himself, however, after PTI unceremoniously withdrew his name.
He is the brother of incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa.
Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar is also a retired Grade-22 officer, who has served on important positions including those of secretary of Ministry of Science and Technology and cabinet secretary.
After his retirement, he was also appointed as a member of the Federal Public Service Commission.
Jalil Abbas Jilani is a former diplomat, who has also served as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States during the previous government.
Earlier this week, the opposition had formed a three-member committee for consultation on the names of new CEC and the ECP members.
The committee, comprising PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal, PPP secretary general Nayyar Bokhari and senior JUI-F leader Akram Durrani, had been authorised by Shehbaz to finalise names for the vacant posts. After holding consultation meetings, the committee was to send the shortlisted names to Shehbaz.
Sanjrani and Qaiser have been trying to end a deadlock over the posts of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan that was created after President Arif Alvi used his 'discretionary powers' and appointed Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui from Sindh and Munir Ahmed Kakar from Balochistan.
CEC Raza, however, refused to administer the oath to the two members, terming their appointment as unconstitutional. President Alvi's move was also challenged in the Islamabad High Court, which referred the matter to the parliament.
With additional reporting by Sanaullah Khan in Islamabad.