The selection of Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim as the new chief election commissioner (CEC) has been widely welcomed. Political parties, civil society organisations and others are all delighted that a person with impeccable integrity and ample experience has been chosen to fill what is considered to be a vital post. The agreement reached over the issue between the opposition parties and the PPP at a meeting of the parliamentary committee, also brings to an end a prolonged deadlock over the matter of who was to fill this slot.
A better man for this position would be hard to find. Elections demand transparency and fair play at all stages. Justice Ebrahim can be trusted to ensure that this happens. His presence will also help eliminate, or at least reduce to a minimum, bickering and disagreements that could potentially break out. The ruling party has acted wisely in accepting his name, one of the three originally put forward by the PML-N. The separate lists presented by the two major parties had originally led to growing ill-feeling over the matter and fears that a controversial appointment could lead to more trouble ahead.
Justice Ebrahim has already accepted the post. It is clear, however, that he will need plenty of help to perform his duties effectively. He himself has called for the media and NGOs to offer him assistance. Apart from them, political parties will also need to cooperate and play their role in the conduct of an election that is untarnished by allegations of rigging. We must hope that all parties demonstrate the maturity required to make this happen and ensure that the most basic process of democracy moves ahead smoothly in our budding democratic system. Without this cooperation, the election commission’s job will become a difficult one. The new CEC’s primary role then should be to bring all stakeholders together, lay down the rules as clearly as possible and pave the way for what we hope will be a successful election, the results of which are acceptable to all and the usual flaws in the process removed for the betterment of all involved and for the future of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2012.
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