ISLAMABAD - As the deadline for appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) will expire tomorrow, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is faced with yet another challenge of getting a permanent Secretary as the important seat has been lying vacant since October 4.

Although the Establishment Division was requested last week by Prime Minister Secretariat for assigning a BPS-22 officer for the post of Secretary ECP, yet so far no officer has been shortlisted for this seat.

With the Establishment Division sleeping over the appointment of Secretary, the ECP on Tuesday gave acting charge to its Director Administration Usman Ali in order to run the affairs of the commission.

Well-placed official sources said that the appointment of Secretary ECP had been delayed as the 12-member parliamentary committee has not yet finalized a consensus name for chief election commissioner.

They said that the appointment of Secretary ECP was directly linked with the appointment of CEC as both were key posts that needed mutual understanding. “Secretary ECP facilitates CEC. It will be useless to appoint permanent Secretary prior to the appointment of CEC,” an official said.

Secretary ECP Ishtiaq Ahmed had retired on October 4 who earlier had been given extension twice.

But despite that the Supreme Court has given November 13 as deadline for appointment of CEC, the government and opposition have not yet agreed on a consensus name to be appointment as permanent CEC.

The post of CEC has been lying vacant since July 31, 2013 after Fakhruddin G Ibrahim tendered resignation. The ECP has been headed by acting CEC three times since Fakhru Bhai resigned as CEC.

According to Constitution, Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly through consultations would send three names for appointment of CEC to a parliamentary committee for hearing and confirmation of any one person against each post. The parliamentary committee consists of 12 members equally taken from the treasury and the opposition.

Justice (retired) Rana Bhagwandas and Justice (retired) Tassaduq Hussain Jilani have declined to head the ECP after their names were proposed by the government.

According to officials, one of the main reasons behind this refusal was that the powers of CEC had been curtailed under the 18th Amendment reducing the office to mere the status of a member of ECP.

“Imagine that CEC cannot take decision if three of his members out of five have different view point. It means only one key officer in ECP can help the ECP which is the Secretary,” an official commented.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee that would develop consensus on a name for appointment of CEC has so far not reached any decision to what a member said will result in voting according to which the new CEC will be appointed through a two-thirds majority.