ISLAMABAD    -   The recent appointment of two ECP members by President Arif Alvi has triggered a new debate, as opposition forces believe that the constitution has been violated by appointing these members without their consent.

The main opposition is planning to unanimously stage strong protest in the parliament for appointing the two ECP members through presidential ordinance, without taking them into confidence, background discussion with opposition members has revealed. The ECP members appointment from smaller provinces was pending for the last around six months due to differences of opinion between government and opposition.

The difference of opinion mainly prevailed between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif on the names of members of the ECP from Sindh and Balochistan, as despite engaging in written communication could not reach a consensus.

The matter was referred to the parliamentary committee, where the government and opposition members once again stuck to their stance for months.

The ECP members Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and Justice (Retd) Shakeel Baloch from Sindh and Balochistan retired on January 26, 2019 while their replacement under the Constitution should have constitutionally been done by March 12 this year.

The government had missed the constitutional deadline for appointing the members within 45 days. According to Article 215(4) of the Constitution, “Vacancy in the office of the Commissioner or a member shall be filled within 45 days.”

On Thursday last, President Arif Alvi had finally appointed Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui (as member for Sindh) and Munir Ahmed Khan Kakar (as member for Balochistan) allegedly without taking the opposition into confidence. The opposition parties’ members, in their interaction with media, have termed the move as unconstitutional, saying the members could not be appointed without their consent.

The opposition’s nominees from Sindh — former Sindh High Court (SHC) Bar Association president Khalid Javed, former SHC judge Abdul Rasool Memon and former IHC judge Noorul Haq Qureshi — remained unchanged.

Both the former judges were on the original list issued from the office of Foreign Minister Qureshi.

Previously, the government had proposed the names of Dr Salahuddin Mengal, former advocate general for Balochistan; Mahmud Raza Khan, former additional advocate general for Balochistan; and Raja Aamir Abbasi, ex-deputy prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau, for their appointment from Balochistan.