Although he is under no constitutional obligation, opposition leader in National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah has held talks with small and large opposition political parties on the issue of appointment of a permanent chief election commissioner (CEC) – a post lying vacant for over 17 months.
Under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, it is the prerogative of leader of the House (prime minister) and leader of opposition in National Assembly to appoint a new CEC after meaningful consultations. The leader of opposition is not constitutionally bound to consult other parties in opposition on the issue of CEC appointment; but sources close to Khurshid Shah said that he consulted all political parties with a view to evolving a consensus.
Shah has consulted Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamat-e-Islami, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), as well as allied political parties of the government such as Mehmood Khan Achakzai of PkMAP and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).
JUI-F spokesman Jan Achakzai said that Khurshid Shah had taken Maulana Fazalur Rehman into confidence over the new CEC’s appointment and discussed with him some potential names for the vacant slots. Abdul Rashid Godial, MQM parliamentary leader in National Assembly, also confirmed that the opposition leader had contacted Dr Farooq Sattar on the appointment of CEC. According to him, his party will discuss the issue at a meeting to be held at Nine-Zero, party’s headquarter, today (Saturday) and the party will propose the names for the post of CEC.
The opposition leader in NA on Friday called on PTI senior vice president Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Later, Qureshi told media persons that his party had serious reservations on some of the names proposed by the government and added that PTI would protest “if any one of them is selected”.
The Supreme Court has fixed November 16 as the deadline to fill the vacant post. Shah said he does not want the appointment of CEC to be controversial, which is why he has been meeting leaders of political parties in opposition to reach a consensus. “Both of us [the PPP and PTI] believe last year’s elections were not fair and we want to make the ECP an independent and impartial institution,” he added.
Reiterating PTI’s stance on 2013 general elections, Qureshi said the current election commission is controversial and therefore not acceptable to the PTI. “The ECP should have officials with spotless characters; with this appointment, we are laying the foundation for a better poll body,” he said.
Defending PTI’s nomination of former Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid for the post, Qureshi said Zahid has an untarnished career and no one can point a finger at him. “He [Zahid] can never be pressurised by anyone; we think by appointing him as CEC, we will be doing a great service to Pakistan,” Qureshi added. The sources said that Prime Minister Nawaz has suggested the names of retired Supreme Court judges Tassaduq Hussain Jilani, Rana Bhagwandas and Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui for this post. The opposition leader, on the other hand, has proposed names of only former Justice Mian Ajmal and former Justice Tariq Pervez.
SOURCE: RECORDER REPORT