Thursday Oct 14 2021

Parliamentary panel meeting to decide ECP members' appointments postponed

A general view of the National Assembly. — APP/File
A general view of the National Assembly. — APP/File

  • Dr Shireen Mazari orders deferment of meeting to later date.
  • Two posts vacant in ECP after members retired on July 26.
  • Govt, Opposition are at loggerheads over the appointments.

ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary committee meeting on the appointment of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members has been suspended, sources told Geo News on Thursday.

The committee meeting, which would decide on the members' appointment during an in-camera session, was deferred to a later date on the directives of the committee chairman, Dr Shireen Mazari, sources said.

Two ECP members from Punjab and KP — Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi and Irshad Qaiser — respectively, retired on July 26 after completing their five-year constitutional term — leaving two posts vacant.

With no further exchange of letters between Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and Prime Minister Imran Khan, a meeting of the parliamentary committee was summoned where the names proposed by the two in their first-ever letters to each other were set to be presented, The News reported.

The ruling PTI-led coalition has a majority in the parliamentary committee on the appointment of ECP members, the publication said. This will be the first time that these appointments will be made on the force of a majority in the parliamentary panel rather than through discussion and consensus.

The government in the next meeting is likely to get its nominees approved by the panel as it has a one-vote edge over the opposition in the 11-member committee.

Headed by Dr Shireen Mazari, the panel consists of five members of the PTI plus one independent belonging to Balochistan — Naseebullah Bazai. He is likely to go with the government to defeat the Opposition parties. The PTI members in the panel, apart from Dr Mazari, are Pervez Khattak, Asad Umar, Shafqat Mahmood, and Azam Swati. Raja Pervez Ashraf, Dr Nisar Cheema, Shaza Fatima Khawaja, Shahida Akhtar Ali, and Dr Sikandar Mandhro represent the Opposition parties in the committee.

The edge of one vote is sufficient to get the prime minister’s choices nominated as the ECP members as the committee takes decisions either through consensus or a majority.

In his letter to the Opposition leader, the prime minister had proposed the names of Ahsan Mahboob, former officer of the Police Service of Pakistan; Advocate Raja Amer Khan; and Dr Syed Pervaiz Abbas, former officer of the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), for the vacant post of the ECP member from Punjab.

For the selection of the ECP member from KP, the premier had recommended the names of retired Justice Ikramullah Khan, former PAS officer and currently chairman of the KP Public Service Commission Faridullah Khan; and Advocate Muzammil Khan.

In response to the premier, Shahbaz had rejected all these recommendations.

He had proposed the names of retired Justice Tariq Iftikhar Ahmed, Javed Anwar, Justice (retd) Mushtaq Ahmed, Khalid Masood Chaudhry, Irfan Qadir, and Irfan Ali for the ECP member from Punjab. Syed Afsar Shah, Sardar Hussain Shah, and Sohail Altaf were been suggested by him for the ECP member from KP.