In a first, former bureaucrat picked as CEC.


Byline: Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD -- Former railways secretary Sikandar Sultan Raja will be the first-ever ex-bureaucrat to be heading the country's apex electoral body.

A decision to this effect was taken with consensus at a meeting of 12-member bipartisan parliamentary panel, headed by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, on Tuesday. The panel also named Nisar Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi as members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from Sindh and Balochistan, respectively.

'Today's decision is a much welcome one. Parliamentarians have taken a decision, which was their responsibility. Parliamentary matters should be decided by parliament,' Ms Mazari said while announcing the end of a deadlock that had kept the ECP dysfunctional for at least one and a half months after the retirement of CEC Sardar Mohammad Raza on Dec 5, whereas two ECP slots had been lying vacant since the retirement of members Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and Shakeel Baloch in January 2019.

'We should aim to work in this manner in the future,' the rights minister remarked.

Bipartisan parliamentary panel names Nisar Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi as ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan, respectively

The meeting of the parliamentary committee, which was held in the chambers of the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, was also attended by federal Minister for Law Barrister Farogh Nasim.

While talking to reporters, former law minister of Punjab and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Rana Sanaullah said: 'Sikandar Sultan Raja has worked with us for an extended period of time in Punjab. He is an honest, hard-working and decent human being. I hope that now the ECP is able to ensure transparency in the next general elections.'

Former prime minister and PPP central leader Raja Pervez Ashraf noted that all three of the new appointees were capable of doing justice to the job.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) lawmaker Shahida Akhtar Ali said that all three of the names were approved without any opposition. 'Consensus on appointments to the ECP is a win for both politicians and parliament.'

The move comes a day after Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif had sent an amended list of the opposition nominees to the government.

The only amendment in the opposition's list of three nominees was the addition of former attorney general Irfan Qadir in place of former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani. The other two names were the same...

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