Incomplete ECP



As some media reports suggest, the opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif has suggested through a letter once again some names to the prime minister for appointment as election commission members. The ECP is incomplete since the retirement of its two members – Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch from Sindh and Balochistan respectively – on Jan 26; new members under the Constitution should have replaced them by March 12. An independent and complete election commission is prerequisite for free, fair and impartial elections. The government should be held responsible for its slackness.

The contents of the letter give away the impression that there is no serious work done yet to carry out the constitutional requirement in the all-important Election Commission of Pakistan. “To reach a consensus, realistic, sincere and serious consultation should be done. Without realistic consultation, the constitutional responsibility will not be fulfilled,” reads the letter. Sharif also wrote that the PM Imran Khan levelled accusations against the previous nominations by him.

Knowing the acrimony that exists between the ruling PTI and the opposition, there was little hope since the beginning that the two – Prime Minister Imran Khan and Shehbaz Sharif – will get along on anything. On top of that the consultation is being carried out through letters. History shows that consensus is never easy. And in the past, PML-N and PPP had to meet several times at several levels before they agreed on one person who they thought was suitable for a certain job. Sometimes one party had to forego its preferred choice in the interest of carrying on with the system.

Such is the nature of the 18th Constitutional Amendment that made consultation with the Opposition mandatory on several subjects of national importance.

The government shall be well-advised to send the matter over to the parliamentary committee – headed by Minister for Human Rights Dr Shirin Mazari – constituted for the purpose so that the matter could be resolved for good or we risk making all the ECP actions taken post March 12 controversial.