ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Tuesday confirmed that the government and opposition had agreed on the name of retired bureaucrat Sikandar Sultan Raja for the post of the new chief election commissioner.
Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, the chairperson of the committee, announced that the two sides had also reached a consensus on appointing Nisar Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi as members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan, respectively.
“It was the 13th of our committee today. We have reached a decision on all three posts of the election commission through consensus,” she told the media as after months of wrangling and deadlock, the issue of ECP appointments finally came to an amicable conclusion.
“The decision will now be forwarded to the prime minister,” she added.
“It’s a very positive development that the matter has been decided by parliament. It [the issue] was the responsibility of parliament and we didn’t pass it on to some other institution to decide.”
On January 15, the Islamabad High Court had granted 10 more days to the government to finalise the ECP appointments.
The minister hoped that the government and the opposition would sort out such issues in a similar manner in the future as well.
Speaking to reporters, PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said the consensus was reached after both sides showed flexibility.
“The government was reluctant to changes the names it had proposed earlier. The process became easier when it floated new names,” he added.
The former Punjab law minister hoped that the new chief election commissioner would send amendments to the parliament, paving the way for free, fair and transparent general elections.
“I personally know Sikandar Sultan. He is an honest, hardworking and decent person and we have worked with him for a long time in the past.”
PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf told reporters that he hoped the three ECP office-bearers would do justice to their new responsibilities.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser felicitated both the government and the opposition for reaching consensus on the ECP appointments.
“It shows the commitment of the both sides towards issues of national importance,” he said.
Sikandar Sultan Raja is a retired civil servant who served in BPS-grade 22 as a federal secretary. He has served in various capacities including the railways secretary, petroleum secretary, chief secretary of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner and Immigration and Passport director general.
Born in a village near Bhera in Sargodha district, Sikandar completed his FSC from Cadet College Hasan Abdal and then earned a bachelor’s degree in medicine from King Edward Medical University. He also has an LLB degree from the Punjab University. He was inducted into the Pakistan Administrative Service and started his career as the Islamabad assistant commissioner in 1989.