PM Imran once again suggests names for CEC post

Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again suggested three names for the position of Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan, it emerged on Friday.

In a letter dated January 15 and addressed to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister suggested the names of former federal secretaries Jamil Ahmed, Fazal Abbas Maken and Sikandar Sultan Raja for the post.

The letter also stated that the latest suggestion is an attempt at having “meaningful and result-oriented consultation … to resolve this long-standing issue”.

The government and the opposition have been going back and forth on the issue since early 2019. Both sides have suggested a number of names for the post since then. All of those names have been objected upon by the other side.

On December 5, the Islamabad High Court had issued directions for parliament to resolve the deadlock over the appointment of members of the Election Commission of Pakistan within 10 days. That deadline has passed without any conflict resolution.

On December 6, 2019, retired Justice Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi took oath as the acting CEC, a day after retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza vacated the post.

According to Article 217 of the Constitution, the most senior member in age among the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) acts as the CEC if:

a) the office of the CEC is vacant b) the CEC is “absent or unable to perform the functions of his office due to any other cause”

However, acting CEC Qureshi does not hold the power to form a bench to hear any complaint as the minimum strength of a bench under the existing law has to be three. This means all cases of defection and disqualification will remain pending till the appointment of a new chief election commissioner.

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