After extensive consultations with all political parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has finalised three out of six proposed names for the post of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will forward the names to a parliamentary committee for approval today (Friday), The Express Tribune has learnt.
“The PML-N’s proposed three names – Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid and acting CEC Justice Shakirullah Jan – have been endorsed by all opposition parties inside and outside the house,” Nisar said.
He added that all opposition parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Pakistan Peoples Party-Sherpao, the Jamat-e-Islami, Hasil Bazinjo, Mehmood Khan Achakzai and the Sindhi nationalists, had been consulted.
According to PML-N’s legal team, Ali Ahmad Kurd, Justice (retd) Ghulam Rabbani and Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan were the other three in the running for CEC.
However, Kurd was rejected within the party as he did not meet the criterion under Article 213 of the Constitution. Sources in the PPP and the PML-N said Raza Khan was almost cleared, before being held back due to certain reasons. Although the PML-N found Raza Khan to be an upright man, it felt he would not be able to handle the pressure.
PML-N sources further said that Justice Rabbani was replaced by Justice Ebrahim, owing to some opposition parties’ reservations over the former. PTI General Secretary Dr Arif Alvi told The Express Tribune that his party emphasised on proposing Ebrahim for the slot of CEC.
Justice Zahid, on the other hand, was backed by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who is keen on seeing him as the new CEC. Zahid belongs to urban Sindh and, according to sources, the MQM’s legal section is also satisfied by the choice. Under its strategy, the PML-N would first try to finalise the name of the current acting CEC as the new CEC. However, if they fail to reach a consensus, the committee will forward the name of Zahid as the second option, while Ebrahim is reserved as the third.
While addressing the media, Nisar said he would keep all opposition parties up-to-date on proceedings of the parliamentary committee in this regard.
Nisar further said that according to the rules of the committee, a two-thirds majority is required in parliament even for the amendment of the rules of procedure.
PPP’s proposals rejected
In the first week of May, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had sent three names to the committee for the slot of CEC, all of which were rejected by opposition members.
The three names proposed by the premier included Justice (retd) Munir A Sheikh, Justice (retd) Amirul Mulk Mengal and Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi. The PPP wanted to see Sheikh as the new CEC, an option Nisar categorically rejected.
Meanwhile, Mengal’s name was rejected owing to the fact that he has left the country to settle in the UK, while the opposition raised objections over the name of Alvi, claiming he was ‘under’ Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro.
On the other hand, the PPP has decided to reject the names of acting CEC Shakirullah Jan as well as Justice Ebrahim.
However, a major section of the party has also refused to accept the name of Justice Zahid.
The appointment, selection and composition of the CEC will be made in accordance to Article 213 of the Constitution.
The parliamentary committee comprises 12 members, divided equally between the opposition and the government.
The committee convened two meetings on May 14 and May 15, where it elected PPP’s Syed Khurshid Shah as its chairman.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.