Court gives 10 days to resolve ECP issue

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– Govt to announce name for CEC within few days
By Shakeel Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday directed the parliament to resolve the deadlock over the appointment of members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) within 10 days.
During the hearing of a petition challenging the appointments, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah appreciated the efforts made by National Assembly (NA) Speaker Asad Qaiser and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to resolve the deadlock, saying the NA speaker and Senate chairman are neutral and could end the deadlock between the opposition and the government.
The additional attorney general had requested the court for more time, saying that the seventh meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Members of the Election Commission of Pakistan was held on Wednesday. Chief Justice Minallah asked Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha if a petition in this regard had been filed in the Supreme Court (SC). Members of opposition parties had filed a petition in the top court on Wednesday, requesting it to “pass an appropriate order” in the wake of an impasse in parliament on the appointment of the CEC and two ECP members.
“[I] do not understand why you have gone to court when the matter is moving towards a solution,” he remarked. “Why do you bring such matters in court? It is beyond understanding; everything is in your hands, you are an elected representative, solve matters yourself,” he added. The judge further said that while it was “easy to hear the case”, the court wanted to “see a strong parliament”.
“You should not come to us, instead resolve all conflicts in the parliament. We want to see a strong parliament and you have to do it,” the IHC chief justice said. Justice Minallah also observed that the CEC position was an important one and that the government and opposition should come together to end the impasse on his appointment. The hearing of the case was adjourned until December 17.
Meanwhile, the government proposed the names of Babar Yaqoob, Fazal Abbas and Arif Khan for the CEC position following approval from Prime Minister Imran Khan. Yaqoob is currently posted as secretary election commission while Abbas and Khan are former federal secretaries. Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif had proposed the names of Nasir Mehmood Khosa, Jalil Abbas Jillani and Ikhlaq Ahmed Tarar for the same post. The positions of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan have been lying vacant since the retirement of Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and Justice (r) Shakeel Baloch in January, owing to a deadlock between the government and opposition over the appointment of the members.
After the government and opposition failed to reach a consensus over the names, President Dr Arif Alvi on August 22 appointed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s nominees as ECP members, giving way to controversy. Matters worsened when incumbent CEC retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza refused to administer the oath to the members appointed by the president.