ISLAMABAD - Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar yesterday initiated the process to fill the vacant slots of Election Commission of Pakistan’s provincial members by sharing the government list of candidates with Leader of Opposition Khurshid Shah.

In a brief media chat after the meeting, both the leaders termed the meeting cordial and hoped the vacant slots of the ECP provincial members would be filled with consensus.

However, sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting between the two informed The Nation that they also discussed the possibility of resumption of dialogue on terms of reference for Panama Papers probe facing deadlock for a month.

The sources said Ishaq Dar told the leader of the opposition that the prime minister wanted meaningful dialogue on terms of reference for Panama Papers probe and once again extended the offer to resume the stalled talks of the parliamentary committee on the Panama leaks.

They said Leader of Opposition Syed Khurshid Shah informed Ishaq Dar that the government should show flexibility on the Panama leaks probe as the demands of the opposition on the matter were justified.

On the ECP members’ selection, the leader of the opposition said he would consult other opposition parties’ leaders over the proposed candidates by the government and also finalise a list of candidates from the opposition side in a day or so. Both the lists would be examined by the two leaders to evolve a consensus list of three for each province, which would be given to the 12-member parliamentary committee.

It is pertinent to mention here that the leader of the opposition had already called a meeting of the opposition parties’ heads today (Wednesday) to finalise the candidates’ list to fill the ECP members’ slots. Now they would also be seeing the government’s candidates as the same was provided to Syed Khurshid Shah by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

After the meeting, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah said the opposition would not show any flexibility over Panama leaks probe mechanism while the government should justify its position on the matter.

He further said Ishaq Dar had discussed some names to fill the ECP members’ slots and now he would get back to him after having reflection of opposition parties’ leaders on these names and some of the names they have proposed.

It was an initial meeting and they would be meeting again on Friday for further discussion on the matter, hoping they would reach consensus on the candidates to be installed as the ECP provincial members, Shah added.

Replying to a question about the probe into the Panama leaks, the leader of the opposition said this controversy would be discussed later, but quickly added the opposition parties were not ready to display any flexibility on the probe mechanism and hoped the government would show flexibility to break the stalemate.

On the occasion, Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said he had discussed the names for the ECP provincial members with the leader of the opposition. Dar said the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and the leader of the opposition also inquired about the health of the prime minister, expressing his well wishes for his early and complete recovery after the open heart surgery.