An important meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Members of Election Commission of Pakistan is scheduled tomorrow (Tuesday) amidst the reports that the government and opposition are likely to reach consensus to appoint new CEC and two ECP members.
Recently, reports have surfaced that the government has agreed to withdraw its nominations for the position of the CEC and new names would be taken up in the parliamentary committee's upcoming meeting.
However, sources in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) privy to the matter told Business Recorder that the government has not withdrawn any of its nominations but it is willing to consider any fresh names coming from opposition for the CEC and ECP members' slots.
Reportedly, both the government and opposition sides are considering the proposal to agree on the elevation of government candidates for the positions of CEC and member ECP from Balochistan keeping in view that the PTI is in the government at the centre and it is also part of the government in Balochistan.
Moreover, the government and opposition are also likely to agree on the elevation of an opposition candidate as ECP member from Sindh keeping in view that Pakistan People's Party (PPP) is in the government in Sindh.
This proposal is expected to be discussed in the parliamentary committee's meeting scheduled on Tuesday, sources said. The 12-member parliamentary committee, which comprises of six parliamentarians each from the treasury and opposition benches, is led by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari.
The committee had last met on December 4 and since then its meetings have been repeatedly postponed due to opposition's boycott. In the committee's December 4 meeting, the two sides had failed to reach consensus over the appointment of the two ECP members and deferred the matter on the pretext that the names of the new CEC and members ECP would be announced together before this meeting was again rescheduled.
Prior to December 4 meeting, the parliamentary committee, a day earlier on December 3, had reached consensus over the appointment of government's nominee Naveed Jan Baloch as ECP member from Balochistan and it was expected that the government and opposition would come together in the next meeting (held on December 4) to agree on opposition's nominee for the appointment of ECP member from Sindh too, which is also a cause of deadlock between the two sides, it is learnt.
The CEC and ECP members are appointed with consensus between the leader of the house (prime minister) and leader of the opposition in National Assembly. PM Imran Khan has recommended recently retired Secretary ECP Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, and former federal secretaries Fazal Abbas Maken and Arif Khan for the elevation of anyone of them to the coveted slot of the CEC.
Leader of the Opposition in NA Shehbaz Sharif has recommended the names of former federal secretaries Nasir Mahmood Khosa, Jalil Abbas Jillani and Akhlaq Ahmad Tarar for the CEC post.
For member ECP from Sindh, the PM has recommended former Justice Sadiq Bhatti, Justice (r) Noorul Haq Qureshi and Abdul Jabbar Qureshi. For member ECP from Balochistan, he has recommended Dr Faiz Kakar, Naveed Jan Baloch and Amanullah Baloch.
NA opposition leader has suggested the names of Nisar Durrani, Justice (r) Abdur Rasool Memon and Aurangzeb Haq for member ECP from Sindh, and Shah Mehmood Jatoi, Rauf Atta and Raheel Durrani for member ECP from Balochistan.
Article 213 reads, "(2 A) The Prime Minister shall in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, forward three names for appointment of the Commissioner to a Parliamentary Committee for hearing and confirmation of any one person.
Article (2B) The Parliamentary Committee to be constituted by the Speaker shall comprise fifty percent members from the Treasury Benches and fifty percent from the Opposition Parties, based on their strength in Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), to be nominated by the respective Parliamentary Leaders:
Provided that in case there is no consensus between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, each shall forward separate lists to the Parliamentary Committee for consideration which may confirm any one name."
As per the relevant constitutional provisions, the criteria for the appointment of the CEC and the four ECP members (one member is appointed from each province) is the same and the CEC and ECP members are appointed for five years with half of the members (two out of four) retiring after 2.5 years.