Business Recorder: ECP re-composition: Govt-TMQ meeting today

RECORDER REPORT

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The government team entrusted with the gigantic task of reconstitution of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on the pressing demand of Dr Tahirul Qadri, Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran TMQ) chief, will meet at TMQ secretariat in Lahore today (Sunday).

Well-placed sources told Business Recorder that the group of constitutional experts tasked to find a solution to re-structuring of the ECP – one of the four demands of the TMQ chief, agreed during his four-day sit-in in Islamabad – have reached the conclusion that it is not possible at least at this stage when the assemblies are about to be dissolved.

According to he sources, the constitutional experts including Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, S M Zafar, Wasim Sajjad, Dr Khalid Ranjha, Farukh Naseem and Latif Afrdi during intense consolation have conveyed to the Law Minister that ECP could not be dissolved sans constitutional amendment in Article 215, which deals with removal of Chief Election Commissioner and any member of the ECP.

According to Article 215 of the constitution, “the commissioner [or member] shall not be removed from office except in the manner prescribed in Article 209 for the removal from office of a judge and in the application of the article for the purpose of this clause any reference in that article to a judge shall be construed as a reference to the commissioner [or, as the case may be, a member].

In this case, the CEC and any member of the ECP could only be removed through Supreme Judicial Council, procedure for which is defined in article 209 of the constitution.

Sources said that the government team will convey to Qadri about the consultations held with the legal experts. Besides, they added that the government is also lacking the required number in National Assembly to bring constitutional amendment in article 215.

The meeting is being held in the light of clause 3 of the Islamabad Long March Declaration signed by Dr Qadri and the Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain led by ten-member government delegation on January 17, which says the issue of ECP composition will be discussed on Jan 27 at the TMQ Secretariat in Lahore.

Talking to reporters here Saturday, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the government has consulted the stakeholders on implementation of its agreement with Tahirul Qadri. He said that a meeting will be held with Tahirul Qadri in Lahore on Sunday (today) to discuss implementation of the accord with him.

“The consultation has been done about the implementation of the agreement with Tahirul Qadri in accordance with the law”, he pointed out.

However, sources said that the ten-member government committee which brokered a deal with Qadri to end his sit-in will meet the TMQ chief in Lahore to inform him about the situation.

The team comprises PPP’s Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Syed Khurshid Shah, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Farooq H Naek, PML-Q’s Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain Syed, MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar and Babar Ghauri, ANP’s Afrasyab Khattak and FATA’s Senator Abbas Afridi.

The government team would discuss implementation of the accord reached with him.

The PPP sources said the consultation has been done about the implementation of the agreement with Tahirul Qadri in light of the law.

It may be noted that Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira has also confirmed the meeting in his press talk in Islamabad.

It was agreed between the government and its allies and Allama Tahirul Qadri had agreed to hold meeting at Minhajul Quran on January 27 after four days sit-in at the D-square. Both the sides had agreed to ensure electoral requirements before the holding of elections.

Earlier, the legal team of government, its allies and representative of Minhajul Quran had met in Islamabad for preliminary discussion during the week.

The opposition has however expressed reservations over the development, saying the Islamabad declaration has no legal binding on Constitutional requirements.

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