Opposition refuses to accept Pakistan poll panel picks

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Islamabad: The deadlock over the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan continues as the government has refused to relent on its pick for the top slot of ECP, Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad. The Opposition parties too have stuck to the names given for the same.

The Islamabad High Court had given the Parliament 10 days until December 17 to reach a consensus regarding finalisation of names for the new members of the ECP.

The parliamentary committee on appointment of the CEC and ECP members, headed by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, could not meet as per schedule on Friday and its meeting is likely to be held on Monday.

This was the third postponement of the meeting in a week.

The government and opposition representatives are meeting through the speaker’s facilitation and the government side is represented by Dr Shireen Mazari, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khatak, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Swati, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan and Naseebullah Bazai of the Balochistan Awami Party.

The largest opposition party in the National Assembly, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is represented by its secretary general Ahsan Iqbal, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, MNA Khawaja Saad Rafiq and Murtaza Javed Abbasi, while former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Senator Dr Sikandar Mandhro are representing the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

While the government is insisting on Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad, which appears on top of the list of three names proposed by it for the CEC office, the opposition is opposed to the move.

According to Opposition members of the committee the government’s nominee for the CEC office, has served as ECP Secretary during the 2018 general elections and he didn’t do anything to make election process free, fair and transparent.

“Our narrative will stand nowhere if we agree on his name,” remarked a member of the PML-N Mushahidullah Khan.

Meanwhile, the opposition’s Rahbar Committee met and discussed various matters concerning the appointment of the CEC and two ECP members.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Rahbar Committee’s convener Akram Durrani said the 2018 general elections had shattered public confidence in the ECP.

He said the opposition wanted to restore this confidence and proposed the names of individuals enjoying good reputation.

He said it was the opposition’s desire that the matter of appointment of the CEC and ECP members was resolved by parliament however, he criticised the government for not being able to create consensus. He said a consensus had been reached between the two sides to take a decision on the appointment of the CEC and two ECP members in one go.

Ahsan Iqbal has also criticised the government for persuading its own president to arbitrarily appoint two ECP members on his own in clear violation of the Constitution.

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