ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Shah on Tuesday was re-elected as the chairman of the 12-member parliamentary committee assigned the task of the appointment of new chief election commissioner (CEC) and the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

In a close contest, Shah bagged seven votes, while PML-N candidate Ms Tehmina Daultana bagged five votes. The sole representative of JUI-F in the committee, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, played a decisive role in the victory of Shah who, otherwise, would have ended up in a tie with Daultana.

Sources in the government say a telephone call from the PPP top-brass did the magic and paved the way for the JUI-F’s decisive support to Khurshid Shah.

Interestingly, Senator Haideri secured the berth in the 12-member committee courtesy the PML-N, as after the passage of the recent constitutional amendments it is the sole prerogative of the Leader of Opposition and Leader of House, in both the houses of the Parliament, to nominate the members for the body.

As the JUI-F chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, was being pressurised by the PPP top leadership, Haideri had no choice but to support the PPP candidate for the slot. But in bid to avoid embarrassment, he did not turn up at the meeting and sent his support to Shah in black and white while pretending to be ill.

Besides his own and Haideri’s vote, the PPP candidate secured the backing of Senator Islamuddin Sheikh, Arif Aziz Sheikh, Dr Farooq Sattar, Senator Haji Adeel and Ghias Ahmed Mela.

Tehmina Daultana bagged all the votes of his party members including Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, Zahid Hamid, Khawaja Asif and Lt-Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch.

Talking to media persons after his re-election, Khurshid Shah said they had received the list of three names proposed by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and he would soon writing a letter to Leader of Opposition to have his reflection on these names. And in case, he would not approve any of the proposed names he would have to submit his list of three candidates.

To a question, Khurshid Shah said it would be another feather in the cap of the PPP to install a setup for holding of free and fair elections in the country after removing distortions from the Constitution.

Under the Constitution, in case of disagreement between the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly the committee would pick a candidate to be appointed as CEC from the lists of candidates proposed separately by the both, with a two-third majority.

Sources in the committee said the prime minister’s list included Justice (r) Munir A Sheikh, Justice (r) Amirul Mulk Mengal and Justice (r) Qurban Alvi, but Leader of Opposition Nisar Ali Khan had expressed his dissatisfaction over all of them and said his party would propose the names for the slot of CEC in consultation with all the political parties in opposition including even those which are not part of the Parliament right now.

He had further dropped the hint that the new CEC would be from a smaller province and no person could put finger on his integrity.