The Supreme Court of Pakistan has asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah to ensure the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner by December, 5th on which date it would withdraw acting CEC Justice Anwar Jamali from the post, and adjourn the hearing of the case till December, 8th. This is the fourth deadline given by the SC, and it is now threatening to issue contempt orders against the PM and the Leader of Opposition.

According to the constitution, only a retired supreme court judge may be appointed as the CEC, which doesn’t make much sense. The post of the CEC is an administrative one as opposed to being one that primarily requires a judicial role. Supreme Court judges are not suited to hold such offices, as is clearly evident from their track record. The strength of their characters simply does not compensate for their weak administrative skills and lack of expertise, and even honourable individuals such as Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim find themselves vulnerable to all sorts of attacks due to non-performance. In time, it would be wise to pass legislation aimed at widening the scope of selection. Surely, it is not impossible to find a capable administrator in Pakistan whose moral credentials are acknowledged by all parties involved.

Reportedly, four names – Justice (r) Sardar Raza Khan, Justice (r) Shakir Ullah Jan, Justice (r) Mian Muhammad Ajmal and Justice (r) Tariq Pervez – have so far been shortlisted by the PM and the Leader of Opposition. Interestingly, other than Justice Mian M. Ajmal, all three nominees belong to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and have previously served as Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court. Perhaps this has been done with the PTI mind, which recently rejected the nomination of Justice (r) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and many blame is responsible for creating a hostile enivornment that discourages individuals from taking on challenging positions such as the CEC. In any case, the government is ultimately responsible for failing to fulfil its constitutional duties, which almost always involves managing political difficulties.