NA speaker, Senate chairman to engage opposition over ECP members – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The president of the Senate, Sadiq Sanjrani, and the president of the National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, have decided to hold consultations with opposition parties to resolve the controversy over the appointment of members of the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP) .

The decision to involve the opposition was taken by the custodians of the two houses of parliament after discussing the matter with the government legal team and constitutional experts during a meeting here on Tuesday.

At the meeting, the minister of law, Barrister Farogh Naseem, the minister of parliamentary affairs, Azam Swati, and the attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan, informed the president of the Senate and the speaker of NA about the legal and constitutional aspects of the matter a the light of the October 15 decision of Upper Islamabad. Cut.

The sources said the participants were of the opinion that to resolve the issue once and for all, they might have to amend the Constitution or make legislation and for this purpose they would need the support of opposition parties, especially in the Senate where the government was in minority.

The president of the Senate and the speaker of NA also discussed the issue on Monday and decided to meet again on Tuesday in the presence of the minister of law and the attorney general.

The meetings were held following the order of the IHC last month regarding the controversial and unilateral appointment of the members of the PCE of Sindh and Balochistan by President Dr. Arif Alvi.

The law minister and the attorney general were asked to suggest a way out to resolve the controversy that had been going on since the withdrawal of PCE members Abdul Ghaffar Soomro from Sindh and retired judge Shakeel Baloch from Baluchistan in January. Under the law, their replacements were to be designated within 45 days.

According to the Constitution, a consultation between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly is required for the appointment of the members of the PCE, as well as the chief commissioner of elections (CEC).

After Prime Minister Imran Khan and opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif did not reach a consensus on names, the matter was referred to a bipartisan parliamentary committee, but also failed to reach a consensus.

President Alvi, using his "discretionary power," appointed Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui of Sindh and Munir Ahmed Kakar of Baluchistan on August 22 against two vacant posts in the respective provinces, which sparked a strong protest from opposition parties.

The controversy deepened when, in an unprecedented movement, the CEC, the retired judge Sardar Mohammad Raza, refused to administer the oath to the two members, qualifying their appointments as unconstitutional.

The president's act was challenged before the IHC by Nisar Ahmed Cheema and Murtaza Javed Abbasi, the two opposition legislators of the Pakistan-Nawaz Muslim League (PML-N) and members of the parliamentary committee on the appointments of PCE members .

The IHC in its order of October 15, when referring the case to parliament to decide the dispute, had subtly reminded the government that a presidential order could not annul the constitutional provisions while the violation of the Constitution amounted to treason.

The petitioners alleged that the president had ignored the constitutional provisions.

The petitioners said there was no constitutional provision allowing the president to appoint Siddiqui and Kakar invoking their discretionary powers. They added that after the approval of the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, the president had lost his discretion to appoint the members of the PCE.

The IHC had ordered the secretaries of the National Assembly and the Senate to submit copies of this order to the president of NA and the president of the Senate so that both could jointly try to resolve the problem related to the appointment of ECP members between Treasury and opposition banks.

The court also sought a report from both secretaries for the next hearing date and postponed the matter until November 4.

Posted on Dawn, October 30, 2019


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