ISLAMABAD - Ruling PML-N and PPP, the main opposition party in both the houses of the Parliament, have tacit understanding not to concede ground on powers vested in them by the Parliament be it the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner or their role in the formation of the caretaker government.
It is this backdrop that after the stepping up of pressure by second major opposition force in the Parliament Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for electoral reforms and other related matters, both PML-N and PPP are in rush to complete the already much delayed task of filling the vacant slot of Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan, being managed on ad-hoc basis since the stepping down of former chief election commissioner Fakhurruddin G Ibrahim on July 3, 2013.
Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif has formally asked Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly to propose suitable names for filling up the vacant slot of Chief Election Commissioner. The same would be sent to prime minister in a week's time, confirmed the opposition leader referring the prime minister's request.
Sources further informed that both the parties had completed the homework on the matter with legal and constitutional minds of both the parties already making efforts to evolve consensus on a personality to be appointed as the CEC.
Lately, the name of Justice (r) Baghwandas was tossed to fill the slot of CEC and an amendment in the Constitution was also on the cards to remove the bar on his stepping into the slot, but hev (Baghwandas) himself withdrew his candidature on the ground that he would not get any position for which the government would be required to bring some constitutional amendment.
But the quest and efforts for evolving consensus on someone acceptable to both the main stakeholders and other political players in the Parliament is on and the legal and constitutional wizards of both PPP and PML-N had held series of covert meetings in this connection, a source in the ruling PML-N confirmed to The Nation.
Sources aware of the background contacts between the leadership of both these major Parliamentary parties informed that the two parties had agreement on the point that they would not let certain elements, some of which are even part of the Parliament, to infringe upon their Parliamentary powers and role in dispensing with their Parliamentary functions like appointment of CEC or any other matters wherein their constitutional role is explicitly defined in the Constitution.
After the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment, prime minister and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly are the main consultees in appointment of the chief election commissioner. In case both of them fail to agree on a single name, they would send separate lists of nominees to the 12-member Parliamentary Committee to decide the matter with two-thirds majority.
The Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner was already constituted by the speaker National Assembly wherein one-third members (four members) would be taken from Upper House of the Parliament while rest of the eight members would be from National Assembly with treasury and opposition would be sharing the 50 per cent strength.
Under clauses of Article 213 and 218 of the Constitution, the nominations in the committee would be the prerogative of the Leaders of the House and Leaders of Opposition in both the houses of the Parliament.
Currently, the Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of CEC comprised Senators Rafiq Rajwana, Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir (PML-N), Islamuddin Shaikh (PPP) and Haji Adeel (ANP) and Members of the National Assembly Capt.(r) Muhammad Safdar, Sardar Arshad Khan Leghari, Dr Darshan, Muhammad Junaid Anwar Chaudhry (PML-N), Nawab Yusuf Talpur, Ayaz Soomro (PPP), Dr Farooq Sattar (MQM) and Shehryar Afridi (PTI).