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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Sikandar Sultan is Pakistan’s new Chief Election Commissioner

Sikandar Sultan Raja, a retired federal secretary has become Pakistan's new Chief Election Commissioner thus ending months of debate and deadlock between the government and the opposition.

Sikandar Sultan Raja has become the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of Pakistan. This has ended the months-long debate and deadlock between the PTI led government and the opposition parties dominated by PMLN and PPP.

Sikandar Sultan Raja is a retired civil servant who served in BPS-22 grade and has had the honor of serving at top bureaucrat positions such as the Railways Secretary, Petroleum Secretary and Chief Secretary of both Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Media sources had been predicting this final choice for the past 24 hours. Final approval had to come from the parliamentary committee. Government and the opposition have also agreed on the names of Nisar Durrani as the ECP member from Sindh and Shah Mehmood Jatoi to fill the vacant slot for Balochistan.,

In the new panel, Shehbaz Sharif proposed the names of ex-attorney general Irfan Qadir and removed former foreign secretary Jalil Abbass Jillani from the panel

The post of Chief Election Commissioner has remained vacant since December 6, 2019, when Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza retired. Two ECP members, Abdul Ghaffar Soomro of Sindh and Justice (retd) Shakeel Baloch of Balochistan also retired at the end of their terms.

The Constitution mandates that when ECP positions fall vacant, they must be filled within 45 days by the government in consultation with the opposition, but the talks between the two sides remained deadlocked as they rejected each other’s nominations.

Read more: Both members of Election Commission are un-constitutional

Apparently, there was a political deal behind this final consensus. Parliamentary committee had agreed, on Monday, that the opposition panel will name candidates for the vacant seats of ECP members from Balochistan and Sindh, while the government members will name the Chief Election Commissioner for Pakistan.

Dr. Shireen Mazari, Minister for Human Rights, briefed media and asserted that “decisions of the parliament have been taken inside the parliament, which is a good thing”. In a pointed reference towards Establishment, she added that, “no power outside the parliament was needed for this consensus, this is the way things should be”

Earlier on Monday, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif had sent Prime Minister Imran Khan three new names for the post of CEC, which included Irfan Qadir, Ikhlaq Tarar and Nasir Mehmood Khosa. Govt’s list had included Sikander Sultan Raja. Raja is a retired top civil servant (BPS-22) who has served as Federal Secretary.

In the new panel, Shehbaz Sharif proposed the names of ex-attorney general Irfan Qadir and removed former foreign secretary Jalil Abbass Jillani from the panel.

The post of the CEC is lying vacant since the retirement of Justice (retd) Sardar Raza on Dec 6, whereas the positions of the two ECP members have been empty for a year now.