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ECP to Pick interim CM punjab as committee fails to accord

LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is to arbitrate a candidate for the slot of the caretaker chief minister Punjab after a parliamentary committee constituted by the Punjab Assembly speaker failed to achieve consensus on it.

While the six-member committee had equal representation from the treasury and the opposition to nominate names for the caretaker chief minister Punjab, it had only one day to deliberate upon the nominations for made by outgoing chief minister Parvez Elahi and opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz.

Under the Article 224-A of the Constitution, the parliamentary panel has three days to select one of the four nominees. However, the committee got only a day to deliberate upon the names due to a delay in the notification to form the panel.

With the matter referred to the ECP, the ruling alliance’s representatives reaffirmed Mr Elahi’s forewarning that they would move a court of law if any “controversial person” was selected by the election watchdog.

Committee nominations

Pervez Elahi from the Punjab assembly treasury side had nominated Cabinet Division Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera and former Punjab chief secretary Naveed Akram Cheema. While the opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz nominated Ahad Cheema, the PM’s special assistant and Mohsin Naqvi, a media house owner.

The parliamentary committee treasury members constituted of former ministers Raja Basharat, Mian Aslam Iqbal, and Hashim Jawan Bakht. While PM’s aide Malik Ahmad Khan, PPP parliamentary leader Syed Hassan Murtaza, and Malik Nadeem Kamran represented the opposition.

Committee Reservations

Speaking to media following the inconclusive meeting, the treasury representative Raja Basharat claimed that “the nominees suggested by the treasury were the “best options if measured by any yardstick”.

Mr Sukhera’s eligibility

Malik Ahmad Khan of committee’s opposition representatives indicated that both th nominations made by Mr Elahi failed to meet eligibility requirements under the law. He highlighted that one was a dual national and the other served as member FPSC.

Where Article 63(1)(c) of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court (PLD 2019 SC 201) prohibits a dual national to become a public office holder. Malik ahmed khan expects Mr Sukhera will be disqualified on these grounds to become caretaker CM.

Besides, he added, being a serving bureaucrat he also holds an office of profit in the Service of Pakistan. This as well curtails Mr Sukera’s eligibility to become the interim CM under Article 63(1)(d).

Mr Naveed Akram Cheema’s eligibility

Regarding Naveed Akram Cheema, Mr Khan said that the treasury nominee has served as the chairman of the FPSC. Where Section 5 of the Ordinance governing the working of the commission limits the eligibility of a member of the commission for further employment in the service of Pakistan upon ceasing to hold office.

The opposition optimism

Meanwhile, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira referring to the Punjab’s ruling alliance threat regarding ECP arbitrated caretaker CM said that ‘the incumbent ECP chief would form the caretaker setup and the PTI-Q League alliance would have to accept the decision.

Kaira during a party ceremony in Raiwind, also shared the optimism that the party’s CEC would not only form the caretaker government but also hold elections to the Punjab Assembly prior to the general election.

‘Fix date for polls’

Meanwhile, PA Speaker Sibtain Khan wrote a letter to Governor Balighur Rehman and asked him to fix a date for holding elections in the province since the provincial house stood dissolved as of Jan 14.

It said that under Article 105(3) read with Articles 224 and 224A, the governor was required to announce a date no later than 90 days from the date of dissolution of the assembly, for the election in the province. But, the letter said, Mr Rehman has not done the needful despite a lapse of one week.

Zahra Sikandar
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