ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the second major opposition party in the National Assembly, has agreed to a proposal of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) that besides retired judges, bureaucrats should have the right to become chief election commissioner (CEC).
"We have shown our consent on the proposal of PPP, the major opposition party in NA, that bureaucrats and lawyers might be allowed to become CEC, besides judges of the superior judiciary," a senior PTI leader informed.
The PTI has shown this consent during its recent consultations with the main opposition party on the issue of appointment of CEC and electoral reforms. PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari had met with the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah on July 7 in this regard. Both these PTI MNAs were among the three members nominated from the party for the electoral reforms parliamentary committee that is in the process of constitution.
The PTI leader said, "PTI is of the view that if a retired bureaucrat can head the election commission in India, that is one of the best elections commissions in the world, then why not a bureaucrat could be given this responsibility in Pakistan."
He further said that by allowing only to the retired judges to become CEC makes the options of the government and the opposition very limited to choose such a CEC that is a man of integrity and uprightness.
"How many retired judges you can find from the higher judiciary with no political affiliations and persons of integrity?" he questioned and answered in the same breath, "You would find a few."
A source in PTI privy to the development informed that Syed Khursheed Shah in his last meeting with two PTI leaders strongly criticised the partial role of member of ECP from the Punjab, Justice (Retd) Riaz Hussain Kayani, and stated a long list of complaints against him in the meeting. Shah, however, appreciated the role of ECP member from Sindh. The PTI leader said that though leader of the opposition in NA criticised the role of Justice (Retd) Kayani for his political inclination towards PML-N in private meetings yet he did not dare say this publicly and that was the prime concern for PTI. "But keep it mind, we want removal of all ECP members," he asserted.
Under the existing law, the CEC will be appointed in mutual consolations between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly.
The PPP has recently suggested that the constitution should be amended to consider senior bureaucrats and lawyers for appointment as chief election commissioner (CEC). The proposal came to surface ahead of the formation of 33-member parliamentary committee on electoral reforms that the Speaker National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has yet to notify. The committee is being constituted in the light of a letter written by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Speaker NA.
Presently, the CEC is appointed in the light of article 213 of the constitution and its clause 2 says: "No person shall be appointed as the Commissioner unless he is, or has been, a judge of a high court and is qualified under paragraph (a) clause 2 of article 177 to be appointed as judge of the Supreme Court."