ECP to remain non-functional

WEB DESK: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) virtually became non-functional after its retiring members spent last working day in office on Friday.

The retiring members are former Justice Roshan Esani from Sindh, former Justice Riaz Kiyani from Punjab, former Justice Fazlur Rehman from Balochistan and former Justice Shahzad Akbar Khan from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Four retired judges of High Courts of their respective provinces were appointed on June 12, 2011 for a non-extendable term of five years. Their term will end on June 12 and Friday was the last working day for four of them.

A former secretary of the ECP said that it was the duty of the Commission, and not that of the Commissioner to conduct by-elections and make arrangements for holding elections honestly. He maintained that by-elections to be held in the absence of ECP Members would remain questionable.

Last month, the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry requested the Speaker National Assembly to constitute a Parliamentary Committee for appointment of the ECP Members, but that was not formed so far.

Prime Minister, in consultation with the Opposition Leader, is required to forward three names for appointment on every vacant post of the ECP “to a Parliamentary Committee for hearing and confirmation of any one person”.

In case there is no consensus between the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader, they will forward separate lists to the Committee for consideration and confirmation of any one individual.

Meanwhile, the Parliament is yet to approve a pending bill meant to give legal cover to the payment of salary to the outgoing ECP members.

The Parliament last month passed the 22nd amendment to the Constitution and changed eligibility criterion for the office of the CEC and the ECP Members. Although, the date of the retirement of the ECP Members has approached, the government has not planned their replacement.

For the appointment of members of the Commission, one member each is taken from four provinces. Under the amended scheme, a retired judge of the High Court or a senior government officer or technocrat could be considered for appointment as member of the ECP. – Business Recorder