–PML-N president recommends Nasir Mahmood Khosa, Jalil Abbas Jilani and Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar for coveted post
–PM and NA Opp Leader suggests names to NA speaker and Senate chief for Balochistan and Sindh members
ISLAMABAD: As Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (r) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan is set to retire in the first week of December, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday forwarded three names to Prime Minister Imran Khan for the coveted post.
After the retirement of the CEC, the ECP will be left unfunctional, as the government and opposition have failed to reach a consensus on the appointment of Sindh and Balochistan after their term ended earlier this year.
The government then unilaterally appointed the members, but the CEC refused to administer them an oath, and the matter was taken to court.
The letter, dated November 25, was dispatched to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat on Friday night according to a PML-N spokesperson.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president proposed the names of three personalities who are “eminently qualified” for the position that comprised former bureaucrat Nasir Mahmood Khosa, former ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani and ex-civil servant Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar.
“The Prime Minister shall in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, forward three names for appointment of the Commissioner to a Parliamentary Committee for hearing and confirmation of any one person.”
“Consultative process required under the above provision should have been initiated by [the prime minister] much earlier,” it read.
“However, in an attempt to avoid possible discontinuity in the functioning of the ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan), which is a constitutional body, I am taking the initiative after a long wait with a hope to hear from you,” Shehbaz said in the letter.
“I would strongly urge that this time we must endeavor to avoid any such impasse by making serious, sincere and genuine effort to evolve a consensus,” the letter said.
“It is my earnest hope that the merit of these persons will be appreciated for urgent consideration in accordance with the law. Should you require any additional information/clarification, this can be made available forthwith,” the letter read.
In another letter, Shehbaz sent recommendations for ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. The suggestions were sent in response to a letter from Qaiser and Sanjrani, which was sent to Shehbaz on November 5.
Shehbaz recommended Nisar Durrani, Justice (r) Abdul Rasul Memon, and Aurangzeb Haq for the post of ECP member from Sindh. Whereas, for ECP Balochistan member, he proposed the names of Shah Mehmood Jatoi, Muhammad Rauf Atta and Rahila Durrani.
Meanwhile, the PM sent his recommendations for the ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan to the NA speaker and the Senate chairman, in response to their letter dated Nov 5.
For the post of ECP member from Sindh, the PM proposed the names of Justice (r) Sadiq Bhatti, Justice (r) Noorul Haq Qureshi, and Abdul Jabbar Qureshi, according to a copy of his letter.
He recommended Dr Faiz M Kakar, Mir Naveed Jan Baloch, and Amanullah Baloch for the office of the ECP member from Balochistan.
‘ECP RISKS BECOMING INEFFECTIVE’:
On Friday, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob hoped that the government and opposition would sort out the issue of the appointment of the commission members soon to prevent the body from becoming ineffective next month.
“The ECP won’t be able to conduct local government elections [in the absence of the CEC and members],” Yaqoob warned while addressing a conference on election reforms organised by the Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFEN).
“The tenure of the elected cantonment boards is also going to expire on December 15,” he added. “In one province, there is a stay order on local government elections for 10 months.” The ECP secretary said the commission is fully prepared to conduct the local government polls.
Yaqoob noted that the ECP was an autonomous body under the Elections Act. However, he added, the commission’s autonomous status was not being recognised.
The ECP secretary also stressed the need for a proportionate representation of the population in the elections.
“The commission is working with NADRA [National Database and Registration Authority] for the registration of female voters,” he added.
Yaqoob noted that all political parties had played a laudable role in the preparation of the Election Act 2017.
“However, the Election Act should not be considered the final word as it too has some operational flaws.”
The secretary informed the audience that the commission had prepared proposals after consulting with locals and the media about elections in 30 districts noted for irregularities.
“In Shangla, elections were rescheduled because less than 10% women voters had cast their votes,” he said.
“But there was great participation by women in the elections in tribal districts which was a major success for political parties and the commission.”
The ECP secretary urged political parties to further support the commission. “Political parties have a responsibility to ensure women’s registration. Before the 2018 elections, the ECP had registered 43 million female voters. However, we fear that the number of unregistered female voters may increase,” he said.