Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, 69, took oath on Saturday as the new Chief Election Commissioner from Chief Justice of Pakistan Nasir-ul-Mulk. It took the government and the opposition a full year to fulfill its constitutional obligation despite repeated reminders and warnings from the Supreme Court. So far, the appointment of Justice Sardar M. Raza has not irked anyone. Even the PTI, which lamented not being consulted on the matter, has acknowledged Justice Raza’s “unblemished record” and seems to have accepted him as the CEC. However, the party and many others rightly believe that this shouldn’t be the end of it. The Election Commission of Pakistan is in need of serious reform, and the change of CEC alone doesn’t quite cut it.

The four provincial members of the ECP ought to be changed too for they have become highly controversial and do not enjoy the confidence of all stakeholders. Since the ECP is tasked with conducting elections, a fundamental exercise for any democracy, it ought to be credible and efficient. The current team falls short on both accounts. They are appointed and removed the same way the CEC is; in accordance with Article 213-2(A) and 2(B) and Article 209 which states that the removal can only be carried out by the Supreme Judicial Council provided it can find the concerned member(s) unable to perform duties owing to incapability or corruption. Since this exercise would be time consuming and controversial, perhaps it would be wise for the concerned members to voluntarily resign, paving the way for the government and the opposition to make new appointments.

The role of the ECP is vast and critical for the resolution of the issue of electoral rigging. The body is not only primarily responsible for conducting elections but also holds powers to set up election tribunals to hear cases. It is the same body, which is tasked to conduct Local Government elections. In its current form, it is simply unprepared and incapable of carrying out its duties. It’s time for the next step.