- Divisive policy not in national interest
The PTI leadership is mainly responsible for the crisis that is brewing over the replacement of two ECP members. Prime Minster Imran Khan continued to delay the mandatory consultation with the leader of the opposition till the prescribed time limit was over. Unwilling to hold direct talks on account of personal dislike, the Prime Minister finally agreed to enter into correspondence with the Leader of the Opposition that further put off the postings. The two leaders failing to reach an agreement, the issue was referred to the bipartisan parliamentary committee as required under the Constitution. The PTI’s holier-than-thou attitude once again failed to produce a consensus. The government then decided to have its nominees appointed members of the Election Commission of Pakistan through a presidential order, despite the Constitution providing no role to the President in the process. Even after the legally questionable move, it took seven months to do a job that had to be finished within 45 days.
The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has shot down the appointments on the ground that these were made in violation of the constitutional provisions. The controversial appointments and the subsequent refusal by the CEC to administer oath to the appointees has heightened the political temperature and could lead to a prolonged legal battle. The Law Minister argues that the CEC had no authority to examine the validity of the government notifications while Senator Raza Rabbani maintains that the manner in which the two members were appointed was in clear violation of Articles 213 and 218. Leaders of both the PML-N and PPP have expressed their resolve not to allow the government to violate constitutional provisions and run the affairs through presidential ordinances and notifications.
What stands in the way of national unity, which is badly needed at this juncture, is the PTI’s divisive politics. Pursuing personal and party agendas by ignoring constitutional requirements, steamrollering the opposition and running the country through ordinances and office orders is bound to deepen the polarisation and harm the country.