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ISLAMABAD: The government and opposition parties, perhaps, in a rare show of unity, has agreed to appoint the two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against the vacant positions from Punjab and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa unanimously and with “zero dissent”.

The in-camera meeting of the parliamentary committee on appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), chaired by its chairperson Dr Shireen Mazari on Wednesday, discussed the list of nominees against the ECP members from Punjab and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa who got retired on July 26, 2021.

Sources privy to the discussions told Business Recorder that the two sides have agreed that the committee would give a unanimous decision by accommodating one each nominee, forwarded to the panel by Prime Minister Imran Khan and opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif for consideration.

They said that the committee is likely to finalise the name of Advocate Raja Amir Khan, a nominee of Prime Minister Imran Khan, against the ECP vacant membership from Punjab. The government has also finalised the name of former Justice Ikramullah Khan from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The sources further maintained that the opposition has also finalised two names former Justice Tariq Iftikhar from Punjab and Sohail Altaf from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

They also maintained that the government representatives in the committee were divided over the nominees, as Pervez Khattak wanted any member from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to be appointed from the government side, while Fawad Chaudhry insisted on a nominee from Punjab.

After the division within the government, the sources maintained that Asad Umar sought some time to make final consultation with the prime minister on one nominee of the government.

The prime minister had forwarded the names of Ahsan Mehboob, Advocate Raja Amir Khan, and Dr Syed Pervez Abbas from Punjab, while from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the names of former Justice Ikramullah Khan, Faridullah, and Muzzamil Khan have also been forwarded to the panel.

The opposition leader has forwarded six names from Punjab, including former Justice Tariq Iftikhar, former Justice Mushtaq Ahmad, Khalid Masood Chaudhry, Irfan Qadir, Mohammad Javed Anwar, and Irfan Ali. Whereas, for the nomination against the ECP member from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the opposition leader has forwarded three names, including Syed Afsar Shah, SafdarHussan Shah, and SohailAltaf.

In its meeting held on November 15, 2021, the committee dropped two names – Faridullah from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, nominee of the prime minister and Irfan Qadir from Punjab forwarded by the opposition leader – on technical grounds.

Talking to reporters informally after the Wednesday’s meeting, Mazari said that all the members of the committee have taken decision on the main nominees and now the final decision would be taken in the panel’s next meeting to be held on Monday after consultations within their respective parties.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) representative in the committee, Senator Azam Tarar said that the committee made deliberations on few nominees and shortlisted two names each from both the provinces.

“It has been decided that any decision on the final nominees would be taken with consensus, as it’s a sensitive matter and we want that there is zero dissent,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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