ECP question

The neglect is criminal




Three of the five members including the all-important chief election commissioner of the Election Commission of Pakistan have retired and their replacement is long overdue.  The question that is being asked is as to why the bonhomie witnessed by the nation in the wake of services chiefs’ tenure bills not helping the government and the opposition come together on filling the vacant post in another institution in the country.

While we heard that a breakthrough was imminent and that the old lists of names by the both sides have been withdrawn in favour fresh ones, there is no progress worth its name.

It is worth repeating the two members from the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan have retired a year ago and as per rules there were to be replaced by end March last year. The ruling PTI made a mockery of the whole process by refusing to hold the mandatory consultative process with the leader of the opposition. At one point in time the government got a joint secretary level official of ministry of foreign affairs to write to the leader of the opposition asking his opinion on the matter.  Later the President sent names of two members without meeting the constitutional requirements to the CEC which were objected to by the then CEC. This dangerous practice could have set a precedent for bypassing the Constitution which thankfully was stopped in its tracks. The Islamabad High Court too has intervened and asked the custodian of the two houses – National Assembly speaker and Senate chairman – to resolve the matter and report back within a certain deadline. This could not get more bizarre than that, could it?

Then the inevitable happened. The CEC retired and we now have the single most important democratic institution in the country in the throes of a crisis. In between the government tried to amend the rules of the game in a clear bid to out manoeuvre the opposition on the matter but they must know there is no other way out of this crisis except for taking the opposition along just as they did in the latest legislation. All it takes is minor adjustments in your respective positions. After all the opposition combined represents more people than the government does. People who voted them in need a representation too.