New CEC__ Challenges ahead?

The parliamentary committee for the appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC) has agreed on the name of Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan as the new CEC on Thursday just a day before the deadline given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Once again lawmakers performed their constitutional duty to fill the key constitutional office which has been lying vacant for over 16 months, after the pressure from the highest court.

On the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain formally approved the appointment of Justice Khan as the new chief election commissioner of Pakistan. Sardar Raza Khan is expected to take oath of his new post on Friday.

During today’s meeting of the parliamentary committee, Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) agreed on the name of Justice Sardar Raza. PPP’s Islamuddin Shaikh proposed the name of Justice Raza for the post and Senator Haji Adeel of the ANP seconded it. MQM’s Farooq Sattar also agreed with the name along with committee members belonging to the PML-N, which led to the unanimous selection of Justice Sardar Raza. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shahryar Afridi did not attend the meeting of the committee. PTI MNAs have refrained from attending meetings of the parliamentary committee since legislators from the party tendered their resignations en masse at the peak of the Islamabad sit-ins in August. Consultation with other parties over the appointment of CEC was not constitutional right but considered it a moral obligation.

Prior, members of the parliamentary committee said three names viz Justice (Retd) Tanveer Ahmad, Chief Justice of Federal Shariah Court Justice (Retd) Sardar Raza and Justice (Retd) Tariq Pervez were recommended to the committee by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah and Federal Minister Finance Ishaq Dar and none of the members objected to the name.

It seems a good decision when we put a glance on the portfolio of Justice Sardar Raza Khan, who is until today he was working as incumbent Chief Justice of Federal Shariat Court and he retired as judge of the Supreme Court in 2011.

He seems a man of honour and dignity and he is one of the few judges of apex court who had refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) after the imposition of emergency by then military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007. He also gives importance to his decision and does not like to go with the flow he was also a member of the bench headed by then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry which gave a decision in the famous NRO case but Justice Raza was the only member who gave a ‘partial dissenting note’. Going on the same pattern, while hearing a petition challenging the PCO, Justice Raza was also not in favour of issuing contempt of court notices to the judges who had taken oath under the PCO. It shows that he gives preference to his own decisions and gives great importance to the ethics.

Its is a time that all the political parties must come forward to strengthen the electoral system of the country and desired changes in the constitution must be done to give the new CEC more powers. It is a good omen that all almost all the political parties unanimously gave node in favour of Justice Muhammad Raza. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf should also support the decision. Pakistan Muslim League Q Chief Chuadhary Shujaat Hussain has condemned the decision and said first objective of the government should be to eradicate the flaws in the electoral system.

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