Negotiators were locked in talks on Sunday over choosing a chief election commissioner (CEC) from a fresh panel of nominees a day before a special parliamentary committee was set to resume its deliberations, sources privy to developments told The Express Tribune. The list of nominees is to be submitted later to the parliamentary committee.
According to sources, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Ishaq Dar and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA and Committee chairman Khurshid Shah were holding negotiations, while both the opposition and government enlisted help from the legal fraternity in the choice.
The sources, close to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, revealed the party has so far decided on two names to send in its fresh list; Justice (retd) Raza Khan and Justice (retd) Munir A Sheikh (whose name was included in the old list as well). They added the negotiations have so far seemed positive with certain top Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) officials expressing satisfaction with Raza Khan’s name. They have rejected Munir Sheikh’s name again however, and negotiations continue over a third name as well.
PPP has two options in case the consensus develops, according to the sources. They can either use the name agreed upon with PML-N to complete the old list – incomplete after Zahid Qurban Alvi refused to be considered for CEC on Friday (June 1) – or they can withdraw the earlier list entirely and submit a fresh list consist of three names including Raza Khan and Munir Sheikh.
The sources also said that both PPP and PML-N are contemplating alternatives in case Justice (retd) Fakharuddin G Ibrahim chose to drop out from the CEC nominees’ list as well. If the situation arose, the parties will withdraw both their lists, which constitute the panel of nominees, and develop new ones with consensus.
Reason behind Alvi’s refusal
Alvi’s refusal was a calculated move to adjourn the committee’s meeting and was part of the negotiations between PPP and PML-N, according to sources.
Sources in PPP told The Express Tribune that Sindh Law Minister and PPP leader Ayaz Soomro, who recommended Alvi’s name in the first place, was directed by the party’s leadership to ask the latter to withdraw himself from the panel of nominees in order to provide the government and opposition a chance to develop consensus.
Article 213 of the Constitution states that the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) and the Leader of the House (Prime Minister) appoint the CEC through consensus. In case none is reached, it is mandatory for them two send two separate lists, with three names in each, to the 12-member parliamentary committee. The committee then approves one name from the panel of six nominees with majority decision.
PM Gilani on April 30 sent the names of Munir Sheikh, Zahid Alvi and Justice (retd) Ameerul Mulk Mengal in his list, which were rejected by Leader of the Opposition in NA Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
Khan sent his list, consisting of Fakharuddin Ibrahim, Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid and acting CEC Justice Shakirullah Jan, to the committee on May 25. This list was in turn disapproved by PPP.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2012.
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