Govt begins talks with Opposition
ECP members’ appointment
ISLAMABAD—The federal government Sunday began consultation with the opposition for appointing four members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). After the ECP was rendered incomplete with the retirement of its four members on June 12, the electoral process has been at halt across the country, including mayoral or deputy mayoral elections, bye-polls in various constituencies and notification of newly-elected parliamentarians.
The four ECP members, who retired from their office after expiry of their term, included Justice (retd) Roshan Esani (Sindh), Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani (Punjab), Justice (retd) Fazalur Rehman (Balochistan) and Justice (retd) Shahzad Akbar Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
According to the Constitution, the ECP members are appointed by the government in consultation with the opposition. As per Article 13-A and B, the prime minister and opposition leader are bound to send three names from each province to a 12-member parliamentary committee which will pick one name for appointment as ECP member from the respective province.
The parliamentary committee must have equal representation of opposition and government legislators, eight members of the National Assembly (MNAs) and four Senators.
The Parliament has recently unanimously passed 22nd Constitutional Amendment, according to which a technocrat can now also be appointed as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) or ECP member.
Under the amendment, no serving Supreme Court judge can serve as the acting CEC and, hence, the most senior ECP member in age will function as the acting CEC if the office is vacant at any time or the CEC is absent or is unable to perform his functions due to any other cause.
Moreover, out of the four new members to be appointed, now two would retire after two and a half years while the rest would complete the five-year tenure. This procedure would be adopted to ensure that all posts of the ECP members do not fall vacant at the same time in future.
The parliamentary committee on the appointment of four members has recently elected Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid as its chairman. The committee consists of members from Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-eInsaf (PTI), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). The committee is expected to hold its meeting in next couple of days. The Chief Election Commissioner has already postponed byelections in five national and provincial assembly constituencies in Punjab and Sindh, due to the pending appointment of ECP members. The constituencies, where polls have been postponed, include NA-63 (Jhelum), NA-162 (Sahiwal), PP-232 (Vehari), PP240 (D.G. Khan), PS-14 and PS127 (Karachi).—NNI