Govt, opposition to approach SC to resolve issue of appointment of ECP members

Amid deadlock to resolve the pending issue of appointment of two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the opposition parties have decided to approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan, sources familiar with the matter told on Tuesday.

The recent political strife between the government and the opposition had resulted in missing the constitutional deadline of 45 days for the appointment of two members of the ECP as both parties have rejected each other’s proposed nominees for the vacant seats.

According to the Constitution, the premier and the opposition leader forward three names to the parliamentary committee after having consensus over the matter. However, if no agreement is reached between them, they can propose three names separately for the designation(s).

Then, the parliamentary committee with a two-third majority can choose one name from the total six. But, if any deadlock arises between members of the parliamentary committee over the matter, then the Constitution does not guide further.

About six months have passed since the retirement of members of the ECP from Sindh and Balochistan, and yesterday the parliamentary committee – that has equal representatives from the government and the opposition – rejected names forwarded by both the prime minister and the opposition.

Earlier, PTI minister Shireen Mazari stated that ‘they’ had decided to settle the matter by allowing the opposition to select a member from Balochistan, and the other member would be chosen by their party.

“Opposition wants to bring its member from the Sindh”, she added. It constitutional crises pertaining to the appointment in ECP.

On June 11, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif proposed the names of Abdul Rasool Memon, Khalid Javed and Noorul Haq Qureshi for the appointment of ECP member from Sindh.

He proposed the names of Shah Mohammad Jatoi, Salahuddin Mengal and Mohammad Rauf Ata for the vacant post of the ECP member from Balochistan.

Shehbaz Shariz, then, forwarded the list of reviewed names to Prime Minister Imran Khan, and wrote in his letter that the constitutional responsibility will not be fulfilled if consensus is not reached.

Article 215 (4) inserted in the Constitution through the 22nd Amendment reads, “Vacancy in the office of the commissioner or a member shall be filled within 45 days.”

On April 2, PM Imran Khan wrote a letter to the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Shahbaz Sharif, seeking his suggestions in writing.

In a four-page letter, the PM rejected all objections and allegations hurled by Sharif that the federal government was violating the Constitution by delaying the appointment of the ECP members from Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

Earlier, Sharif wrote a letter to PM Khan for opposing his method of consultation over the appointment of ECP members through nominees and accused the government for violating the Constitution by impeding the filling of two vacancies.

Sharif had maintained that the PM was reluctant to hold a direct consultation with him, and termed it a major factor behind the delay.

PM Imran Khan had suggested the names of Amanullah Baloch, ex-district and sessions judge, Quetta; Munir Kakar, a lawyer; and Mir Naveed Jan Baloch, a businessman and a former caretaker minister in the provincial government, for their nomination as a member of the ECP from Balochistan.

He had further proposed the names of Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui, a lawyer, retired Justice Farrukh Zia Sheikh, a former judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC), and Iqbal Mehmood, retired inspector-general Sindh, for their nomination as a member of the ECP from Sindh.

“The entire idea of sending you the letter and the present one is to enter into an effective, meaningful, purposive and consensus-oriented process of consultation, leaving no room of complaint of arbitrariness or unfair play,” the letter had stated.

The ECP had written a letter to the federal government for the designation of new members till March 13 while the body has been incomplete for six weeks after its members from Sindh and Balochistan retired on Jan 26.

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