The stubborn stance of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government regarding their chosen appointments for replacements in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) stands invalidated after the Islamabad High Court’s ruling, which sent the issue back to the parliament and asked it to resolve the situation. The IHC’s decision on the matter is completely understandable in this case; the constitution states that the opposition must be consulted for these appointments and categorically does not allow for the President to appoint individuals for these positions at his sole discretion.

The PTI government willingly violated the rules regarding appointments in the ECP and knew it was blatantly in the wrong, and yet it still persisted with this case, wasting its own time and paralysing the leadership of the ECP in the process. The intentions of a sitting democratic government that looks to violate electoral procedures for its own benefit should be questioned. The opposition has a right to wonder exactly why the federal government refused to adhere to the rules and procedures for appointment of ECP members especially when having a partisan member or two in the body could only benefit the party that appointed them.

The whole exercise of consulting the opposition is not a means to procrastinate or get bogged down by tedious procedure; to ensure that the ECP is fair and transparent, any appointments made must be agreed to by both sides of the house to avoid future conflict and allegations of rigging and tampering in electoral contests. The ruling party must stop taking decisions unilaterally and remember that the democratic process is there for a reason, and indeed, it is this process that brought PTI into power as well.

Now that the IHC has announced its decision; the PTI has no legal recourse or even any sound argument left for bullishly persisting with its chosen candidates. There is now no way around this; the ruling party must consult the opposition regarding these appointments and arrive at a consensus, something it has been loath to do on a variety of issues since it came into power. It is hoped that the government does not insist on paralysing the ECP any longer and wasting the time of the courts and the parliament in the process; even if it files an appeal, the rules are clear – consensus is the only way around this. It is hoped that sense prevails in the decision-making circles of the ruling party on this occasion.