ECP is complete

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THE long-running tussle between the treasury and the opposition benches has ended with a consensus on appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and two members of the Commission from Balochistan and Sindh. The Parliamentary Committee, on Tuesday, confirmed the name of retired bureaucrat Sikandar Sultan Raja for the post of the CEC and appointment of Nisar Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi as members of the Commission from Sindh and Balochistan respectively.
Though politicians/parliamentarians took extraordinarily long time in arriving at a consensus on the issue but the very fact that they finally agreed on names is an encouraging development. Previously, the two sides were sticking to their names especially in the case of the CEC and it was apprehended that the matter will ultimately have to be referred to the Supreme Court, which would have sent negative signals about inability of the politicians and Parliament to exercise their powers in this regard. The agreement shows politicians have the capability to overcome their differences and make wiser choices provided there was a will and determination to sort out things through discussion which is part and parcel of the political process. The Constitution provides clear pathway for handling such issues but unfortunately things get worse due to inflexibility in attitudes and that too for petty political gains. All the new appointees enjoy good reputation and hopefully they would contribute their share in strengthening the Election Commission and delivering as per expectations of the people, who want the Commission to work independently in the discharge of its core responsibility of holding free, fair and transparent elections. Dr Sikandar Sultan Raja has rich and varied administrative experience and is known as an honest, upright and hardworking officer. Electoral process is losing its credibility due to massive allegations of pre-poll, polling day and post-election rigging and it will be a big challenge for the new head of ECP to restore confidence of the masses in the institution. In theory, ECP enjoys much powers and freedom but in practice its hands seem to have been tied due to various factors that need to be taken care of.