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CEC refuses to take oath from two ECP members appointed by government

CEC refuses to take oath from two ECP members appointed by government
August 23, 2019
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan on Friday refused to take the oath from the Sindh and Balochistan members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) appointed by the government. Giving the reason for his refusal to take the oath, the CEC said that the appointments of Khalid Mahmood Siddiqui (Sindh) and Munir Ahmed Khan Kakar (Balochistan) were not made under Article 213 and 214. “I cannot take the oath as the appointment of the new members is illegal,” he said. The Election Commission of Pakistan has already informed the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in this regard. The opposition has already rejected their appointments, terming them illegal. According to the constitution, consultation between the prime minister and the opposition leader is mandatory for the appointment of a new member. The matter is sent to the parliamentary committee if both fail to reach a consensus. Then the parliamentary committee decides the appointment of the new members after consultation. Despite the deadlock, the government appointed the two members. On Thursday, President Dr Arif Alvi had appointed Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui as a member from Sindh and Munir Ahmed Khan Kakar as a member from Balochistan. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs notified the appointment of the two members. "In pursuance of paragraph (b) of clause (2) of Article 215 thereof, the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is pleased to appoint the following persons as Members of the Election Commission of Pakistan," read the handout. The ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan — Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch — had retired in January and, under the law, the positions were to be filled within 45 days. In March this year — after the government had already missed the deadline of making the appointments — the prime minister had sent three names for each of the vacancies to Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif. He suggested the names of Amanullah Baloch, former district and sessions judge, Quetta; Munir Kakar, a lawyer; and Mir Naveed Jan Baloch, a businessman and former caretaker minister in the provincial government, as nominees from Balochistan. Moreover, he proposed the names of Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui, a lawyer; retired Justice Farrukh Zia Sheikh, a former judge of the Sindh High Court; and Iqbal Mehmood, retired inspector general of Sindh, as nominees from Sindh. The move only came after criticism from the opposition as well as from legal circles over the refusal of the prime minister to hold direct mandatory consultation with the opposition leader as required under the Constitution. The government had also faced criticism when Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had sent the nominations and that too through an additional secretary working in the Foreign Ministry. Previously, the government had proposed the names of Dr Salahuddin Mengal, former advocate general for Balochistan; Mahmud Raza Khan, former additional advocate general for Balochistan; and Raja Aamir Abbasi, ex-deputy prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau, for their appointment from Balochistan. It had also proposed the names of Mohammad Nadeem Qureshi, ex-member judicial (judge of the customs appellate tribunal); retired justice Abdul Rasool Memon, former registrar of the SHC; and retired justice Noorul Haq Qureshi, a former Islamabad High Court judge from Sindh. After the government sent its amended list, the opposition, too, moved to amend its own list of candidates. The opposition’s amended list included the names of three out of six nominees dropped by the government. The opposition’s nominees from Sindh — former Sindh High Court (SHC) Bar Association president Khalid Javed, former SHC judge Abdul Rasool Memon and former IHC judge Noorul Haq Qureshi — remained unchanged. Both the former judges were on the original list issued from the office of Foreign Minister Qureshi. In its slightly amended list for Balochistan, the opposition replaced the name of former chief justice Balochistan High Court Justice (retd) Noor Muhmmad Meskanzai with former Advocate General Balochistan Salahuddin Mengal. The government and the opposition had exchanged lists of their nominees during a meeting of the parliamentary panel on appointment of ECP members held on June 14. The committee then held a meeting on June 19 with the aim to finalize one name each from Sindh and Balochistan for ECP members. However, no consensus could be developed and the issue remained in a deadlock, with both the government and the opposition insisting on having a member of their choice from Sindh and giving the right to pick a member from Balochistan to the other.