- CJP takes suo moto notice on ECP’s lack of performance, puts AG on notice
- Opp says govt has nominated lackeys and yes-men as ECP members
- PPP, PTI and other opposition parties present separate lists
- Consensus yet to be evolved on joint opposition’s list
The government and the opposition appeared deadlocked on the appointment of new members of the Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday (ECP) even as Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali took suo moto notice over the lack of performance by the ECP since its previous members retired on June 10.
The chief justice on Wednesday issued a notice to Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf, seeking his response into the matter by today (Thursday).
Meanwhile, the joint opposition, has raised objections over the federal government’s proposed names for appointment as members of the ECP. However, the opposition parties themselves have failed to finalise their names for the ECP also.
The opposition is also set to make the final decision regarding the names after consulting senior leadership of all the opposition parties. They will share their views with Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Khursheed Shah who will convey the final decision to the government, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.
Under the Constitution, only the leaders of the House and opposition, Nawaz Sharif and Khursheed Shah respectively, have the exclusive role in the appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC) and the ECP members. However, in order to avoid needless tussle and confrontation, other political and parliamentary players are also taken into confidence so that all the top officeholders of the electoral body enjoy universal consensus. But if the PM and the opposition leader are not able to reach consensus, the matter may be referred to the parliamentary committee concerned.
Conscious of the fast approaching deadline of July 25 to make these nominations, the two main constitutional consultees – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah – are directly or indirectly taking the process forward.
But while the government side has no problem in firming up its nominees because it doesn’t need to consult with anybody for the purpose, Khursheed Shah faces a different scenario. He has to take on board all the opposition parties, at least 9 in the loose alliance that was formed to hold talks with the government on the Panama Leaks through a 12-member parliamentary committee, if he wants to avoid any fissures in the alliance. He will come out with his recommendations only after evolving a consensus in the coalition.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have already come up with their recommendations while other parties in the alliance have presented their names too.
Senator Ishaq Dar, chief negotiator from the ruling party, had shared the government’s proposals with Khursheed Shah.
SUPREME COURT TAKES NOTICE:
The Supreme Court expressed its displeasure over the delay in selecting members of the ECP, which the court noted, has been lying dysfunctional, and demanded a reply from the federal government. “The government is not doing its job. How will the country run like this?” Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali said.
The Supreme Court took notice after various newspapers reported that after the completion of the term of members of the ECP, the body was not able to perform the duties assigned to it under the constitution and electoral laws.
It was learned that various election processes, such as holding of elections against vacant seats in the national and provincial assemblies, local government elections and issuance of notification of returned candidates were not being completed.
The apex court will have a hearing of the case on Thursday, July 14.
‘SHARIF HENCHMEN WON’T BE ACCEPTED IN ECP’:
An opposition party delegate who attended the meeting of the opposition on Wednesday told Pakistan Today requesting anonymity that the federal government planned to put forward names of paid employees and longtime loyalists of the Sharif family.
“The nominations proposed by the government are a mockery of democracy and nothing else. All those nominated for the four seats of the ECP are well known individuals who have longtime relationship with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif or other ruling family members,” the source said, and added that the proposed names by the government have confirmed to the opposition parties that the ruling family is not serious about dialogue with the opposition and they would rather jeopardise the democratic setup.
During the meeting, the source added, the opposition parties also shared with each other their own nominees for the ECP members’ appointment.
“Opposition leader Khurshid Shah proposed the names from the PPP while Shah Mahmood Qureshi shared names of the PTI,” the source said and added that representatives of other opposition parties also came up with their proposals.
When approached for comments, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Information Secretary Senator Kamil Ali Agha confirmed that the joint opposition had discussed the government and the opposition’s nominees for the appointment of four ECP members.
He said that the representatives of the opposition parties have sought time so that they can discuss with their leadership the names proposed by the federal government.
‘ANYTHING TO DIVERT ATTENTION FROM PANAME PAPERS’:
Agha said that his party has serious reservations on the federal government’s nominees.
“I believe that the government looks least interested in the democratic norms. We believe that the efforts are being made to trigger one controversy after another so that the nation’s attention may be diverted from the public’s demand of a probe into Panama Leaks,” he said, and added that this was the reason why the government had put forward names of controversial people as its nominees.
“The government’s names will only add to the controversy. I believe Nawaz Sharif is once again trying to rig the next elections, or he is trying to become a political martyr like he did in 1999,” he added.
“I was the first person who objected when the PML-N’s Punjab government proposed to appoint Justice (r) Riaz Kayani as ECP member. Since I knew of his connections with the Sharif family, I raised my voice at all the available forums but nobody listened to me. Later, all the political parties cried foul but it was too late,” he added.
‘OPPOSITION HAS THE BEST NAMES’:
Asked about the nominations of the PPP, PTI and other opposition parties, Agha said that for the most party, the opposition’s nominees were serious figures.
“Names have been presented by a number of parties and they are all reliable people. There are a lot of names but I can’t share them with the media as I am under oath,” he said.
“We have nominated people with good credibility. They include people from all walks of life including former judges and bureaucrats,” he said.
Agha said that the meeting discussed in detail the situation in the Occupied Kashmir and condemned in the strongest terms the atrocities of the Indian army against the innocent and unarmed people of Kashmir. The opposition parties agreed to hold demonstrations to express solidarity and support with their Kashmiri brethren, he added.
The opposition parties also decided to accept an invitation of a meeting extended by PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on July 19 to discuss future strategy on the Terms of Reference (TORs) for the Panama Papers probe. The meeting will also try to formalise a future strategy if the government remains adamant about the TORs.