ISLAMABAD: After failing to agree on names of the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) the Parliamentary Committee is meeting yet again on January 14 in a bid to break the deadlock.

Following the end of former CEC Justice (R) Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan’s five-year tenure on December 5, 2019, the top slot of ECP has been lying vacant.

The parliamentarians from both sides of the House have met several times but have yet to agree on a name for the post.

Similarly, their agreement to the names for the vacant seats from Sindh and Balochistan is also required as currently, the ECP is working with only two members — one from Punjab, Justice (R) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi, and the other from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Irshad Qaiser.

Justice Qureshi has also been given charge as Acting CEC to run the ECP on day-to-day basis.

According to the Election Commission Act, it is mandatory for the ECP to work at least with three members.

The Islamabad High Court had on December 5 given the Parliament 10 days’ time until December 17 to reach a consensus regarding finalisation of names for the new members of the ECP.

Later the court extended the deadline a couple of times with remarks that it was the Parliament’s prerogative to appoint the CEC and ECP members.

The parliamentary committee on appointment of the CEC and ECP members is headed by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari and has members from both government and opposition benches.

Opposition parties and the government were deadlocked on the name of former Secretary ECP Babar Yaqoob Fateh whose name was proposed by Prime Minister Imran Khan for the top slot.

However, the opposition parties are of the view since general elections of 2018 were conducted during his tenure in office, accepting Babar Yaqoob as Chief of the ECP would be against their narrative of ‘engineered elections.’

Now since the government has agreed to withdraw his name, it is most likely that in Tuesday’s meeting both sides would agree on some new names.

On December 31, while hearing identical petitions regarding appointment of ECP members, IHC chief justice Athar Minallah had remarked that the court could only expect that the opposition leaders and Prime Minister Imran Khan jointly selected names for the posts. Only parliamentary committee can change the rules, he asserted.