PPP, PML-N split over ECP post from Sindh

Published: December 3, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The issue of the appointment of two Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members from Sindh and Balochistan has become has become more complicated with two main opposition parties, the PPP and the PML-N, hitting an impasse over the nominations.

The PPP wants its own nominee for the post from Sindh instead of the ones recommended by PML-N President and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif.

However, there has been some headway in the matter with the parliamentary committee formed to finalise the names agreeing to appoint the government’s nominee for the ECP post from Balochistan and handing over the slot from Sindh to the opposition.

The 12-member committee – comprising six members each from the government and the opposition — met on Tuesday with Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari in the chair.

According to sources, the committee agreed on the appointment of Mir Naveed Jan Baloch as the ECP member from Balochistan.

The opposition will nominate the name for the position of the member from Sindh after the consultation between the PPP and the PML-N. The panel also discussed names for the post of the chief election commissioner.

The committee will meet again on Wednesday (today). National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani met later in the day and directed the committee to ensure that matter was decided on Wednesday to avoid an ECP crisis.

Prior to the parliamentary committee meeting, opposition parties held a consultative session presided over by PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal.

Other leaders representing the PML-N included Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Dr Nisar Cheema, and Senator Mushahidullah Khan. Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Khursheed Shah and Dr Sikandar Ali Mandhro attended the meeting on behalf of the PPP. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal was represented by Shahida Akhtar Ali. According to sources, the PPP and the PML-N were unable to agree on the opposition’s nomination from Sindh. The PPP wants its own nominee for the post. The opposition has sought more time from the parliamentary committee to submit a name and is expected to do so on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Pervaiz Ashraf said the opposition was not divided and a difference of opinion was the beauty of democracy.

PML-N’s Mushahidullah said a consensus had not been reached on any name yet.

The PML-N president has proposed the names of Nisar Durrani, Justice (retd) Abdul Rasul Memon and Aurangzeb Haq for the position of the ECP member from Sindh.

For the post from Balochistan, he recommended Shah Mehmood Jatoi, Muhammad Rauf Atta and Rahila Durrani.

Shehbaz, who is currently in London for the treatment of his brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, also proposed the names of former bureaucrat Nasir Mehmood Khosa, former ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani and retired grade-22 officer Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar for the post of the CEC.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his letter to the National Assembly speaker and the Senate chairman, proposed Justice (retd) Sadiq Bhatti, Justice (retd) Noorul Haq Qureshi and Abdul Jabbar Qureshi for appointment as the ECP member from Sindh.

He recommended the names of Dr Faiz M Kakar, Mir Naveed Jan Baloch and Amanullah Baloch for the vacancy from Balochistan.

The incumbent CEC, Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza, has already warned the government that the ECP would become ineffective from December 7 if his replacement was not appointed before his retirement on December 6.

He wrote a letter to the parliamentary affairs secretary in which he pointed out that two members of the commission, one each from Sindh and Balochistan, were yet to be appointed.

He informed the government that with the absence of the CEC and two members, the ECP would not be able to make any decisions.

ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob will also retire in December. If the appointments are not made in time, not only will the local bodies elections be affected but the PTI foreign funding case and other matters will be put off as well.

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