Govt's go-slow on formation of ECP continues -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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Govt’s go-slow on formation of ECP continues

ISLAMABAD: The government is expected to bring before the National Assembly in its upcoming session a motion to form a parliamentary committee for nominating members of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

“Hopefully the committee will be established in the session due to start by August 9, 2010 as a strong opposition is also present to raise such constitutional issues,” said an official source at the Parliamentary Affairs Division of Babar Awan.

The government has so far been playing delaying tactics in completing the composition of the ECP that has to initiate action against the fake degree holding parliamentarians after receiving their educational documents from the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

The official said that the National Assembly has to authorise the speaker or finalise the names from within the House to set up the body paving way for a trial of those who submitted forged documents in the 2008 general elections. The same source said that the equal representation both from the treasury and the opposition would considerably check the government from bringing in its favourites. “No PCO judge can be brought in the committee because of the fear of the opposition.”

At the same time, the officials at various departments said that there was nothing on the papers though Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan have held consultation over the ECP composition.

Under the new constitutional arrangements, the ECP comprising retired judges as a whole is authorised to take decisions based on consensus and slash powers of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). “The CEC will have just a role of signing the decisions taken obviously by the majority.”

Background discussions with officials at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Parliamentary Affairs Division, National Assembly Secretariat and ECP indicate that the government has so far been taking for granted the issue of appointing the ECP members.

“There is nothing on the papers to constitute a committee or carry out work of proposing names of the retired judges in the form of a panel from each province.” The NA secretariat officials said the NA Speaker has to constitute the committee once the government gets an approval from the House with a voice vote.

“Preparations are under way to formalise day-to-day treasury business in the assembly but there is nothing about the parliamentary committee that you are talking about,” the officials at the NA Secretariat said.

A relevant official at the PM Secretariat said that the prime minister, apart from consultations with Babar Awan, has been busy handling the flood situation but he has now started a process to avoid the scathing opposition. “We use to remind him about the pending matters time and again but it is purely up to him to decide when an action is to be taken.”

The government is to submit before the committee at least three names from each province to induct one of them in each case as the respective provincial representative in the ECP. The President would have final signing authority on the names to be chosen from within the panels by the parliamentary committee.
Source: The News