ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has become non-functional with the retirement of Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza on Thursday.
A senior official of the ECP told Dawn that many important activities of the poll body, including revision of electoral rolls and scrutiny of political parties’ funds, will come to a complete standstill while conduct of any by-polls and preparations for local government elections will also come to a halt.
The ECP member from Punjab retired Justice Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi, being the senior among the only two members of the incomplete commission, will take the oath as the acting chief election commissioner under Article 217 of the Constitution on Friday. But he would not be able to form a bench to hear any complaint as the minimum strength of a bench under the existing law has to be three. This means all cases of defection and disqualification will remain pending till the appointment of a new chief election commissioner.
The good news is that the government has finally proposed three names for the post of new chief election commissioner. The government’s nominees are incumbent ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, former federal secretaries Fazal Abbas Maiken and Arif Ahmad Khan.
Government proposes three names for post
The parliamentary committee on appointment of CEC and ECP members will meet on Tuesday to consider the three names each proposed by the government and the opposition for the positions of CEC and ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif had proposed the names of Nasir Mehmood Khosa, Jalil Abbas Jillani and Ikhlaq Ahmed Tarar for the post of CEC.
He had also 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, he suggested the names of senior Supreme Court lawyer Shah Mohammad Jatoi, former advocate general Mohammad Rauf Atta and Raheela Durrani.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had proposed the names of retired Justice Sadiq Bhatti, retired Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Abdul Jabbar Qureshi for the post of the ECP member from Sindh. For the office of the ECP member from Balochistan, the prime minister recommended the names of 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.
Last day in office
Meanwhile, the outgoing Chief Election Commissioner, Sardar Muhammad Raza, spent his last day in the office in a unique fashion. The national voters’ day, which originally takes place on Dec 7, was organised at the ECP on Thursday, where the CEC delivered a speech.
In his speech, he said that under the Constitution, it is the basic responsibility of the ECP to take such steps for the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections under which all political parties and candidates are provided a level- playing field, so that the supremacy of the Constitution is established and the electorates cast their votes in ideal atmosphere to elect the country’s democratic leadership.
He said the ECP took various steps over the past five years to meet its key responsibility. He referred to the conduct of delimitation exercise in provinces of Sindh and Balochistan for the conduct of local government elections in 2015 after new laws were framed.
Likewise, he said, after sixth census and 24th Constitution Amendment, delimitation for national and provincial assemblies was carried out despite paucity of time in early 2018.
Stressing the importance of error-free electoral rolls in the electoral process, he said the ECP has installed computerised electoral rolls system (CERS) in all its provincial, regional and district offices and the electoral rolls were updated on the basis of the system. He said the process of registering voters on one of the addresses mentioned on their CNICs was also at the final stage.
ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad also spoke on the occasion.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019