ECP Impasse

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IT seems that the issue of appointing two new members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has run into a dead-end after the refusal of the chief election commissioner (CEC) to administer oath to them on grounds of unconstitutionality.

Both Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui from Sindh and Balochistan’s Munir Ahmad Kakar must have returned home red-faced following the decision by retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza.

At heart lies the Supreme Court 2013 ruling which forbids the president from appointing the members of the ECP including the CEC, without fulfilling certain criteria. Now according to the procedure, the new members must be appointed within 45 days after the retirement of previous members in consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition.

After the two leaders reach consensus, the matter is referred to the president for his consent. Unfortunately, under the current political antagonism and bitterness between the ruling party and the opposition the issue has been pending for the past seven months.

Highlighting deep divisions, even the parliamentary committee failed to reach a consensus, though both the prime minister and the opposition leader sent three names each.

In reaching an amicable agreement both the prime minister and the opposition leader now need to show political sagacity. With the country facing numerous internal and external challenges, a further delay in resolving this issue is unacceptable.

Published in Dawn