Islamabad: The standoff between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has hit an all-time high after Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of Pakistan Justice (R) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan refused to administer the oath to two newly notified members of the Election Commission.

Both the newly appointed members Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui (from Sindh) and Munir Ahmad Kakar (from Balochistan) arrived at the Election Commission to take the oath on Friday but they were first told to wait and later told that the CEC would not administer the oath to them as their appointments were not made in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan.

Later, the CEC in a letter informed the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs that since the procedure laid down in the Constitution was not followed in the two members’ appointment, he would not administer the oath to both of them.

In his letter, the CEC has cited violation of Articles 213 and 218 of the Constitution as the basis of his contention.

“It is a matter of Constitution and not of law. How can a former judge be expected to violate his oath?” Kanwar Dilshad, former secretary of the Election Commission, told Gulf News on Saturday.

Justice Sardar Raza has taken a bold step upholding utility, impartiality and objectivity of his office, said Dilshad, adding that the presidential notification appointing the two members is in stark violation of the constitution.

“It seems President of Pakistan has been misled by the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry as appointment of Chairman of the Election Commissioner as well as the members is a joint prerogative of the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and President has nothing to do in this entire process,” said Dilshad.

Meanwhile, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan Swati termed the chief election commissioner’s decision regarding refusal to administer oath to the members as unfortunate saying his stance and its ‘implications’ were being deliberated upon.

Minister for Law & Justice Dr Farogh Naseem has also voiced his ‘concerns’ over the chief election commissioner’s contentions saying he did not have the mandate to refuse the government-appointed members of the election commission.

He emphasised that the new members were appointed keeping in view the procedure laid down in the Constitution and these nominations could not be declared in contravention to the law and the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties have hailed the CEC’s stance saying he had taken a right step in accordance with the constitution.

Former Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat Islami Chief Sirajul Haq have all supported the CEC’s decision. The way these appointments were made by the president was in violation of Articles 213 and 218 of the Constitution, said they in separate statements.

Rabbani termed it an attack on the Parliament and the Constitution, as under Article 50 of the Constitution, the president is a part of the parliament and after the 18th amendment has no role in appointment of the chairman or members of the Election Commission of Pakistan.