No headway in the appointment of two ECP members

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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the parliamentary panel on the appointment of two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ended on Tuesday without making any headway, with contradictory claims from both the government and the opposition.

While sources in the ruling PTI claimed that a consensus had been reached and the names of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan were likely to be announced on Wednesday (today) before the National Assembly session, sources in the opposition refuted the claim.

When contacted, PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal said both nominees of the PTI for ECP member from Balochistan were not acceptable as one of them was a businessman and the other a UNDP consultant. He said any progress was possible only if the government showed some flexibility.

Sources in the PPP said that at Wednesday’s meeting the party would insist on linking the matter with the appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC). They said the name for the CEC post should also be finalised on Wednesday.

The CEC’s office is set to fall vacant after completion of the five-year term of retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan on Dec 6.

The opposition also appears to be divided on the issue of appointment of ECP members as reports suggest a difference of opinion exists between the PML-N and PPP.

A source claimed that a PML-N lawmaker kept on persuading the PPP to agree to the formula of ‘understanding’ proposed by the PTI. The parliamentary committee, headed by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, will meet again on Wednesday at 2pm.

Tuesday’s meeting was the first after a voting on the names proposed by the two sides ended in a tie months ago. The positions of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan have been lying vacant following the retirement of Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch in January.

Under the law, the positions were required to be filled within 45 days, but the deadline passed without even the initiation of a consultation between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition.

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