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January 21, 2020

Key ECP appointments: Shahbaz hints at accepting PM Imran’s nominee for CEC

National

January 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif has dropped a clear hint that he may accept a name recommended by Prime Minister Imran Khan as the next Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), breaking the protracted deadlock.

This emerged from his latest letter to the premier in which he said that the panel suggested by Imran Khan is “under consideration”. He did not reject the prime minister’s nominees including former federal sectaries Sultan Sikandar Raja, Jamil Ahmed and Fazal Abbas Maken.

As a consequence of the opposition leader’s indication, the parliamentary committee on appointment of the CEC and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members made a breakthrough as one of its members said after its session that ninety-five percent progress has been made on the lingering issue.

In his letter, Shahbaz Sharif repeated the two names – former federal secretaries Nasir Mehmood Khosa and Akhlaque Ahmed Tarar – that he had proposed in his earlier communication.

However, he added the name of former Attorney General Irfan Qadir, who had been recommended by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). His name was included in the three-member panel as a result of consultations among the opposition parties.

Shahbaz Sharif wrote in his letter that while the revised panel proposed by Imran Khan is under consideration, he would, in the meantime, request him to consider his new list of nominees, which has been revised keeping in view the changes in the status of the original recommendations since the consultation process started.

The Opposition Leader noted that as they finalised consideration of the persons in the respective lists, he would suggest that they should proceed in accordance with the binding judgments of Supreme Court regarding appointments of ECP members in order to achieve consensus, as noted in his previous letters.

As part of the broader emerging consensus, a nominee proposed by the prime minister is going to be picked up as the CEC while two representatives suggested by the Opposition Leader will be appointed members from Sindh and Balochistan. If the impasse was broken on Tuesday as widely expected, the issue of selection of the CEC and two ECP members will be resolved after over one year. The vacancies of the ECP members occurred this month last year while the CEC post fell vacant on Dec 6 with the retirement of Justice (R) Sardar Raza Khan. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) constantly pushed the MPs to resolve the issue on their own instead of referring it to some other forums. Thus, the IHC showed its keenness for the supremacy of the Parliament. It kept extending the timeline so that the appointments are made by the parliamentary committee. It became involved in the matter after it struck down nomination of two ECP members by President Dr Arif Alvi ignoring the recommendations of the opposition leader.