Govt starts consultation with opposition for appointing members of ECP

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ISLAMABAD, Jun 24 (APP): Federal Government has started
consultation with the opposition to appoint the four members of
the Election Commission from each province.

After the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was rendered incomplete with the retirement of its four members on June 12, the electoral process is at halt across the country, including mayoral or deputy mayoral elections, bye-polls in various constituencies and notification of newly-elected parliamentarians.

The four ECP members, who retired from their office after expiry of their term, include Justice (retd) Roshan Esani (Sindh), Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani (Punjab), Justice (retd) Fazalur Rehman (Balochistan) and Justice (retd) Shahzad Akbar Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).

According to the Constitution, the ECP members are appointed
by the government in consultation with the opposition. As per
Article 13-A and B, the prime minister and opposition leader are
bound to send three names from each province to a 12-member parliamentary committee which will pick one name for appointment as ECP member from the respective province.

The parliamentary committee must have equal representation of
opposition and government legislators, eight members of the National
Assembly (MNAs) and four Senators.

The Parliament has recently unanimously passed 22nd Constitutional Amendment, according to which a technocrat can now also be appointed as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) or ECP member.

Under the amendment, no serving Supreme Court judge can serve as
the acting CEC and, hence, the most senior ECP member in age will
function as the acting CEC if the office is vacant at any time or
the CEC is absent or is unable to perform his functions due to any
other cause.

Moreover, out of the four new members to be appointed, now two
would retire after two and a half years while the rest would
complete the five-year tenure. This procedure would be adopted to
ensure that all posts of the ECP members do not fall vacant at the
same time in future.

The parliamentary committee on the appointment of four members has recently elected Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid as its chairman.

The Committee consist of members from Pakistan Muslim League N, Pakistan People’s Party , Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F).

The committee is expected to hold its meeting in next couple
of days.

The Chief Election Commissioner has already postponed by-
elections in five national and provincial assembly constituencies in
Punjab and Sindh, due to the pending appointment of ECP fresh members.

The constituencies, where polls have been postponed, include NA-
63 (Jhelum), NA-162 (Sahiwal), PP-232 (Vehari), PP-240 (D.G. Khan),
PS-14 and PS-127 (Karachi).

The CEC has also postponed the elections of mayors / deputy
mayors and chairmen / vice chairmen of local bodies in Sindh till
appointment of new members.

Moreover, local government election and by-election in Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa have also been postponed.

Even the ECP could not issue the notification of the returned
candidates, including Muhammad Ashraf Warraich elected from PP-97,
besides others.

It may be mentioned that the retiring members were appointed
in June 2011 for a five-year term after consultations between the
government and the opposition parties according to the procedure as
per 18th Constitutional Amendment.