Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah Monday met and agreed on the names of the National Commission on Human Rights as well as the National Commission for Minorities. However, the names were not shared with the media.
Moreover, possible candidates to fill the post of chief election commissioner (CEC) were also extensively discussed, according to officials, but the leaders revealed nothing regarding the nominees. Talking to the media after the meeting, Ishaq Dar announced that the names recommended by the opposition leader for the commissions have been accepted. However, he chose not to disclose them to the media.
The government would fill these important posts as per standard procedure, Dar reaffirmed. “Now the prime minister will send these names to the National Assembly speaker who would then constitute a four-member bicameral committee to interview and evaluate the candidates for the chairman and members of the commissions and then select suitable candidates.”
Talking about the National Commission for Minorities, Dar said that as per the configurations of commission in the Constitution, four Muslims, two Christians, two Hindus, a Parsi and a Sikh have been shortlisted and a notification will be issued once the selection process is officially complete.
But nothing regarding the possible new chief election commissioner was mentioned during the media talk, despite an extensive discussion on the matter during the meeting. Dar chose to remain silent when journalists repeatedly asked about CEC contenders. Currently, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali of the Supreme Court is acting as CEC.
Earlier, Justice (retd) Tassadduq Hussain Jillani and Justice Nasirul Mulk had served as acting CEC following the resignation Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, who had stepped down in May last year.
Under the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, the government is bound to consult the opposition over the appointment of the CEC and heads of all national commissions.
Monday’s meeting between the government and the opposition was a follow-up to a letter written by the opposition leader to the prime minister on June 25.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.