Govt, opposition lock horns over ECP, CEC

By Uzma Zafar
ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee comprising the government and opposition lawmakers failed to evolve a consensus on the appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC) and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members from Sindh and Balochistan.
The in-camera meeting that was held in the federal capital on Tuesday was chaired by Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari and attended by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan Swati and State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan among others.
After the huddle that considered nominations forwarded by the treasury and the opposition, Mazari said that the government and the opposition were inching towards a consensus.
“The opposition has sought time for further discussion. We are expecting that a decision on this will be taken tomorrow as both sides want to cooperate,” she added.
“Discussions between the government and the opposition are still on. The ECP is an important institution of the country and we have to select its members responsibly. We are aiming to make decisions on merit,” said Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
The meeting comes a day after Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser joined heads to resolve the standoff. They had warned if the parliamentary committee failed to evolve a consensus on the makeup of the ECP, then they would use their discretion and finalise names of members from Sindh and Balochistan.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif sent recommendations for ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan to Asad Qaiser and Sanjrani.
For the post of ECP member from Sindh, the PM had 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 had recommended Dr Faiz M Kakar, Mir Naveed Jan Baloch, and Amanullah Baloch for the office of the ECP member from Balochistan.
Shehbaz had 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 MehmoodJatoi, Muhammad Rauf Atta and Rahila Durrani.
Shehbaz had also written a letter to the PM, suggesting names for the post of the chief election commissioner. He had 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.
He had maintained that PM Imran should have initiated this process of consultation a long time ago. I am starting this procedure to prevent the ECP from getting non-functional, the PML-N leader added.
Earlier, PM Office had raised objections on the names recommended by opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif for the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner. The suggested names were Nasir Mehmood Khosa, Jalil Abbas Jilani and Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar.