The functioning of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is getting controversial by the day, as the government is trying to unilaterally appoint key members without taking the decision to the parliament. The first problem is the retirement of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, who retired this Thursday and his retirement has put a stop to important activities of the poll body, including revision of electoral rolls and scrutiny of political parties’ funds, will come to a complete standstill while conduct of any by-polls and preparations for local government elections.

Both the government and the opposition need to suggest names for the position in order to constructively come up with a decision. The government needs to put an end to the defensive stance it has been taking since the assumption power and actually engage the opposition in decision making in order to uphold the supremacy of the parliament instead of reaffirming previously carried out strategies of unilateral decision making and alienation of the opposition. The court had to intervene when President Dr Arif Alvi appointed two members of the ECP using his discretionary powers. If the court has to meddle in the affairs of the government due to lack of adherence to the law, then the chaos that exists now will persist throughout this tenure.

The ECP needs to be engaged in performing important tasks within the polity that have been put on hold due to the retirement of the CEC and the election of members by the President. Their election should be non-biased and based on the consent of both sides - the government and the opposition. While there is no doubt that the opposition and the government are not likely to be on the same page, the essence of democracy dictates that they engage in dialogue and sort the matter out instead of taking decisions unilaterally which will further push the opposition to disrupt the sessions of the parliament that give them no authority despite winning a seat.

It is high time that both sides engage in a shift in their political strategy because the current setup is only harming the polity and delaying matters of utmost importance. The current tenure should be used to bring reforms in the ECP in order for them to efficiently manage the next polls in the country, and that can only happen with the cooperation on both ends.