AFTER the retirement of Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Sardar Muhammad Raza on Dec 5, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has virtually become dysfunctional with only two members left holding their constitutional posts.
The delay on the part of the government in developing a consensus with the parliamentary opposition on the issue of the selection of the chief election commissioner and two members each from Sindh and Balochistan is a sign of sheer indifference towards its constitutional obligation and is, of course, worrisome.
The nonexistence of the ECP may invite serious repercussive aftermath such as delays in holding bye-elections. Besides, no senate or presidential elections can be conducted.
Similarly, no decision on policy matters related to elections and several important appeals pending before the election commission can be made in the presence of only two members i.e., acting chief election commissioner, Justice (r) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi and one member from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Justice (r) Mrs Irshad Qaiser. They do not constitute the election commission.
The governmental lethargy on the issue of its constitutional obligation has compelled members of the public to knock at the doors of courts.
The government thus finds itself in a defensive position before the Islamabad High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan.
It seems the government still has a lot to learn in the domain of politics.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020