Heralding a new era of consequence for a historically toothless body, Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim took charge as the new chief election commissioner (CEC) on Monday – and his first words on the job echoed the expectations placed on his aged shoulders.
After taking oath, the widely-respected retired justice, who has the trust of both the opposition and government, said that the Election Commission of Pakistan has before it the opportunity to deliver on an elusive dream: a democratic Pakistan.
“It has been my dream to present a prosperous and democratic Pakistan to our new generation and the Election Commission can make our dream true. We have only a one-point agenda, and that is public justice through free, fair, transparent and impartial elections so that no one should ever be able to raise a finger over its impartiality. All employees of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should work to achieve this goal,” he said while talking to the commission’s employees.
Justice Ebrahim, who will hold the post for five years, was appointed as the CEC by a parliamentary committee which consisted of equal members from both the treasury and opposition benches. He has previously been law minister, Sindh governor, attorney-general of Pakistan and senior advocate of the Supreme Court.
He is the first CEC appointed under a new procedure adopted in the 18th Amendment – through which the election body and its officials have been given more power through job security. His name for the post was originally proposed by the opposition, but the government later endorsed it.
“Democracy is a philosophy leading to a democratic system and this can only be achieved through the process of election and by holding free and fair elections. We will follow the Constitution and law,” he said in his first speech.
He further stated that Pakistan was now at a stage where the people had to determine what kind of state they wanted and what sort of country they would like their future generations to live in.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry administered the oath to Justice Ebrahim in a ceremony held in the Supreme Court Building. Apex court judges, ECP members and officials, along with senior advocates, attended the ceremony.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.