ISLAMABAD - As the parliamentary committee failed to end stalemate on election commission appointments, the opposition has approached the Supreme Court, requesting it to pass an appropriate order to avert a constitutional crisis.

The positions of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members from Sindh and Balochistan are vacant for almost a year while the chief election commissioner (CEC) is retiring today (Thursday) on completion of his five-year tenure.

The parliamentary committee seized with the issue met for a second day on Wednesday but failed to end the stalemate as the opposition demanded government share their names for the CEC position before holding any discussion on the appointment of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan.

The committee held an in-camera meeting at the Parliament House with Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari in the chair, official sources informed The Nation.

The committee would now meet next week as the opposition wanted that the appointments of ECP members and CEC should be made simultaneously.

The opposition parties fear that the government wanted to delay the appointment of CEC to run the election commission on ad-hoc basis by appointing ECP member from Punjab as acting CEC, a lawmaker said.

The opposition says the government can nominate the senior-most member of ECP as acting CEC, instead of making a regular appointment, only if the vacant positions of ECP members are filled. Therefore, they have conditioned the appointment of the two ECP members with the appointment of the CEC.

However, Dr Mazari while talking to media after the meeting said that the committee had made some progress and termed their discussion “positive”. She added that the opposition and government were in agreement that the committee should propose the names of the CEC and members together.

On the other hand, the joint opposition Wednesday approached the Supreme Court asking it to pass an appropriate order to avert a possible constitutional crisis that may occur with the retirement of incumbent CEC Justice (r) Sardar Muhammad Raza.

The petition said that two members of the ECP (one each from Sindh and Balochistan) had retired on January 26 and with the retirement of the CEC on Dec 5 (today), the commission would become defunct, bringing the entire electoral system of the country to a standstill.

The petitioners included the convener of opposition’s Rahber Committee and JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani, former National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, PPP Secretary General Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, PPP leader Farhatullah Babar, and ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

The other prominent leaders were PkMAP Senator Muhammad Usman Kakar, NP Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Qaumi Watan Party’s Hashim Babar, and JUP-N leader Shah Owais Noorani.

“The silence of procedure laid down in Article 213 of Constitution in an instance where no consensus is reached in Parliamentary Committee over appointment of Members and Chief Election Commissioner will lead to a Constitutional crisis in the country,” reads the petition.

“That due to lack of consensus over appointments of CEC & Members of ECP or a Constitutional Amendment to resolve this issue, the only viable options left would be to approach this August Court,” it further says.