ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Members of the Election Commission of Pakistan will meet on Tuesday to consider the government and the opposition nominations for two ECP members.
According to the agenda for the meeting issued by the National Assembly Secretariat on Sunday, the bicameral and bipartisan committee of parliament, headed by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, will only consider names of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan as both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif had already proposed three names each for the two offices.
The office of the CEC is also about to fall vacant after completion of the five-year term of CEC retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza. Mr Sharif has already suggested three names for the CEC office, but the prime minister is yet to propose his nominees.
Mr Sharif, through a letter to the NA speaker and the Senate chairman on Nov 30, proposed the names of Nisar Durrani, retired Justice Abdul Rasul Memon, former registrar of the Sindh High Court, and Aurangzeb Haq as ECP member from Sindh.
And for the office of the ECP member from Balochistan, the opposition leader has suggested the names of senior Supreme Court lawyer Shah Mohammad Jatoi, former advocate general Mohammad Rauf Atta and Raheela Durrani for the ECP member from Balochistan.
Similarly, Prime Minister Imran Khan has also sent his recommendations for ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan to the NA speaker and the Senate chairman.
For the post of ECP member from Sindh, Mr Khan has proposed the names of retired Justice Sadiq Bhatti, retired Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Abdul Jabbar Qureshi, according to a copy of his letter.
Mr Khan has recommended Dr Faiz Kakar, Mir Naveed Jan Baloch, a businessman and a former caretaker minister in the provincial government, and former district and sessions judge, Quetta, Amanullah Baloch, for the office of the ECP member from Balochistan.
The suggestions for the ECP members had been sent by the opposition leader and the prime minister in response to letters from the NA speaker and the Senate chairman, which they had written on Nov 5 in line with the decision of the Islamabad High Court.
The positions of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan have been lying vacant since January following retirement of Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch.
Under the law, the positions were required to be filled within 45 days, but the legal deadline passed without even the initiation of consultation between the prime minister and the opposition leader. And even after belated commencement of the indirect consultation process, a controversy arose when President Arif Alvi had on Aug 22 appointed both nominees from the PTI’s list as members of the ECP.
But the crisis deepened when next day Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui and Munir Ahmad Kakar, appointed as members from Sindh and Balochistan, respectively, went to the ECP to assume the charge and the CEC refused to administer the oath of office to them, saying their appointment was against the Constitution.
The appointment of two ECP members was challenged in the IHC by two members of the parliamentary committee belonging to the PML-N. The high court in its order earlier this month, while observing that constitutional provisions were not followed, had referred the matter to parliament and suspended the notification of appointment of the two members.
For the office of the CEC, Mr Sharif has proposed the names of two former bureaucrats Nasir Mehmood Khosa and Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar and former ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jillani.
Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019