Two days before a Supreme Court deadline for the appointment of a permanent chief election commissioner (CEC) ends, the government and the opposition have shortlisted three names and forwarded them to a parliamentary panel.
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar – on behalf of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – met on Wednesday and developed consensus on the names of Federal Shariat Court Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, Justice (retd) Tanvir Ahmad Khan and Justice (retd) Tariq Pervez. However, Justice Raza is being considered as hot favourite for the constitutional slot, according to sources.
Shah had earlier met the prime minister and discussed these names but due to Nawaz’s UK visit and Supreme Court’s approaching Dec 5 deadline, Dar represented the premier and completed the legal requirement of consultation.
Talking to the media, Dar and Shah said that they have shortlisted three names and sent them to Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. They said that before finalising the names, they conferred with all political parties which showed confidence in the nominees.
Shah said that he called PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali and MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar. Dar, on the other hand, contacted PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Khan Sherpao, National Party’s Hasil Bazinjo and leaders of the JUI-F and discussed the names.
Dar and Shah said now the parliamentary committee will decide the final name. According to well-placed sources, almost all political parties have showed their tilt towards Sardar Raza.
Sources said that the PML-N included its sympathiser – Lahore-based Justice (retd) Tanvir Ahmed Khan – but it did not raise any objection to Sardar Raza. Similarly the PPP included name of Justice (retd) Tariq Pervez but it also did not raise any objection to Sardar Raza.
Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of CEC Senator Rafique Rajwana confirmed that the committee’s secretary has received the three names and that the panel meeting will meet on Thursday (today) at 11am to deliberate on them. “The 12-members committee will select only one name either through developing consensus or vote of majority,” he added.
“After consensus, I, as chairman of the committee, shall send the name to the prime minister for appointment within 14 days and such appointment shall be notified in the official gazette,” he added.
He said that out of 12-member parliamentary committee, six are senators and six are MNAs. He said that PTI’s MNA Shehryar Afridi might not participate in the meeting due to his party policy.
Apart from Rajwana and Afridi, the committee include: Caption Muhammad Safdar, Muhammad Juanid Anwar Chaudhry, Muhammad Arshad Khan Leghari, Mohammad Ayaz Soomro, Miss Shazia Mari, Dr Farooq Sattar, Dr Darshan, Haji Muhammad Adeel, Islamuddin Shaikh and Sardar Muhamamd Yaqoob Nasir.
It must be noted that the apex court on Tuesday said it will proceed against the prime minister and the leader of opposition if they fail to appoint a permanent CEC till December 5. However, the attorney general had assured the court that both would finalise a name before the deadline.
PTI says it respects nominees but wants ECP reforms
PTI leader Naeemul Haq said the party does not have any objection to the proposed names and it respects them. PTI’s General Secretary Dr Arif Alvi while talking with The Express Tribune said both the opposition and government have consulted them on three names.
However, PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari issued a statement saying, “The PTI chairman and the party hold all three gentlemen in the highest esteem. However, the PTI feels the appointment of the CEC is insufficient in itself to establish the independence of the ECP as the CEC is merely one amongst five commissioners.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2014.
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