Truncated commission

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Today Dr Sheeren Mazari the chairperson if the parliamentary committee for selection of two members to the Election Commission of Pakistan announced that there was still a deadlock on the nominations. The meeting ended in a stalemate.

Under the current circumstances where there is a stand off between the government and the opposition there is little chance for the compromise. The failure to appoint the members squarely lies at the doors of the government which does not know the art of give and take to run the business of the government.

On Monday, the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser cancelled all the standing committees meetings and ordered to hold the meetings only when the NA was in session. The move came to stop the opposition leaders under detention from participating in the sessions and be out of jail.

The opposition parties criticizing the move said that standing committees perform an important function of oversight and legislation and historically these sessions continue round the year. Conversely the NA sessions are held for 130 days only in a year.

The opposition members will be in no hurry to get done with the business. They would rather be looking to use this delay in their favour.

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.

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 was carried out through letters. Embarrassingly enough, the first letter on the subject to the leader of the opposition was sent by a foreign office official. As was expected, it was not entertained and proved a waste of time.

It is almost a year that the government is in office. They should show their seriousness and intent to do their mandated job. A complete and independent election commission is probably the most critical job that remains unfinished. And it reflects badly on the government’s ability and intentions to deliver.