It has been over a week since the retirement of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), and yet the government and the opposition have not managed to come to a consensus over his replacement. Both sides are needlessly sticking to their guns, taking the operational capacity of the Election Commission of Pakistan hostage to their own agendas. This stalemate is nothing new – long before the retirement there were two vacancies (one in Sindh and Balochistan each) that have been unfilled in the ECP, all because both sides cannot see eye to eye on the issue.

Electoral transparency and fair elections are a demand that all parties have supported from time to time. Why is it then, that they cannot ensure that the institution that ensures this has the capacity to work properly? Both sides must realise that this indefinite deadlock is of no use to anyone. Sindh and Balochistan have been lacking an ECP member since October. The judiciary has also already stepped in and ruled that a consensus was the only way out of this.

The government must relent from sticking to a candidate that held a position of power in the 2018 elections. Opposition parties will quite obviously not agree to this considering that their narrative of rigging in the general elections of 2018 gets adversely affected as result. Make no mistake; the ruling party is not refusing to budge on its chosen candidate because he is the only one in the whole country that can do this job effectively. Other candidates can surely be found, PTI should stop acting like an opposition in government and look to compromise, at a time when the country would definitely benefit from an end to the impasse.

The opposition on its part, is also making this appointment murkier than it already is. Certain opposition representatives have already admitted that they do not doubt the character of the ruling party’s chosen candidate; their issue relates to the last general elections and its organisers. This in itself is almost a contradiction; either they accept the government’s choice or not, there is no middle ground. Given that the opposition representatives have refused to appoint candidates put forward by the government, they must also offer up replacements or secondary options that they themselves accept. Simply rejecting options because they come from the ruling party only ensures that the ECP cannot function properly. Both sides must act maturely. Enough of this bickering.