The PPP and PML-N have condemned the government’s appointment of two new members to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
On Thursday, the government issued a notification that Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui has been appointed as a member from Sindh while Munir Ahmed Khan Kakar from Balochistan.
The PPP’s Khursheed Shah said that the appointments are illegal and in violation of the Constitution. They said that he will raise the issue in Parliament.
The PML-N has rejected the appointments too. Marriyum Aurangzeb, the party’s spokesperson, said that the government has violated the country’s laws and harmed its democratic values. “The notification bypassed Parliament,” she said. Aurangzeb demanded that the government take back the decision.
The two posts have been lying vacant since January 26, after the retirement of Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and Justice (retd) Shakeel Baloch. The law requires the posts to be filled in 45 days.
The opposition criticised the government over its failure to reach a consensus on the appointments. In March, the prime minister submitted three names each for the vacancies to Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif. He nominated former sessions judge Amanullah Baloch, lawyer Kakar and businessperson Mir Naveed Jan Baloch for Balochistan. For Sindh, he suggested the names of Siddiqui, a lawyer, former high court judge Farrukh Zia Sheikh and former Sindh IG Iqbal Mehmood.
The government, however, amended its list and proposed the names of former Balochistan advocate general Dr Salahuddin Mengal, former additional advocate general Mahmud Raza Khan, and former NAB prosecutor Raja Aamir Abbasi for Balochistan. For Sindh, it suggested former judge Mohammad Nadeem Qureshi and justices (retd) Abdul Rasool Memon and Noorul Haq Qureshi.
Responding to this, the opposition amended its list of candidates too. Their list included the names of three out of the six nominees dropped by the government.
The two lists were exchanged on June 14 during a meeting of a parliamentary committee on ECP appointments. A meeting was held again on June 19 to finalise the names but no consensus could be reached.
Previously, the members of the electoral body were appointed by the president. After the 18th Amendment was passed, the appointment process required that both the government and opposition be on the same page.
A parliamentary committee comprising 12 members was set up for the purpose. Whenever a vacancy comes, the prime minister in consultation with the opposition leader is required to submit three names to the committee for confirmation. If the PM and the opposition leader do not agree on three names, they are then required to submit separate lists.
The committee is then responsible for choosing the person by a simple majority vote and forwarding the name to the president for approval.