Consultation on ECP slots
The ongoing smooth consultation between the treasury and the opposition over the selection of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) office-bearers is going to empower the top poll body in the future. Earlier, the cold war between the two sides threatened to create an impasse over the selection of names for chief election commissioner (CEC) and ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan but friendly proceedings of the parliamentary committee indicate that the nomination would pass the test without making the wrong headlines. The parliamentary body, headed by Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, held a meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday and will again meet today as both sides needed to consult their leadership. Ms Mazari was upbeat about reaching a consensus as she said that both sides wanted to cooperate (on the issue). PPP leader and member of the committee Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also expressed the same sentiments. He said deliberations between the treasury and the opposition were on and both sides knew the importance of the ECP as a constitutional institution. “We are aiming to make decisions on merit,” he said. Both sides are also aware of the consequences of not reaching a deal. If the body fails to reach consensus, the National Assembly speaker and the Senate chairman will nominate members from Sindh and Balochistan.
The impasse over the ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan is a month old issue after the prime minister and the opposition leader pitched different names for the slot. According to Article 218 (2B) of the constitution, four (ECP) members, one from each province, each of whom shall be a person who has been a judge of a high court or has been a senior civil servant or is a technocrat and is not more than sixty-five years of age, shall be appointed by the president. About the CEC selection, Article 213 (2A) says states the PM in consultation with the opposition leader shall forward three names to the parliamentary committee. If the selection process goes smoothly, it will be a welcome shift in the government’s attitude.
52 years of PPP
On the 52nd Founding Day, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) held a mammoth rally in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. In an apt reference to solidarity with Kashmiris, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said his party would always support the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. He devoted much of his speech to Kashmir and Kashmiris, renewing the bond of his party with the valley. Kashmiris also responded in a celebratory manner to the PPP Founding Day rally. Founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on November 30, 1967, till its 52nd celebrations under Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the PPP has been through all sorts of struggles and phases. These 52 years have been full of turmoil, betrayals, court trials, jail terms, floggings, vote triumph, exile, murders, media trials, people’s confidence, people’s lack of trust and so on. Over the last decade, the party has evolved into a cult; and for many people, it is simply in their blood to support it, while so many others simply cannot put it up with. That is what the PPP has been throughout history.
The party was conceived without any planning. ZA Bhutto resigned from the Ayub cabinet in 1967 and with his like-minded friends, founded the party in Lahore. It won a landslide victory in the 1970 elections. The party gave voice to the voiceless, power to the powerless and a culture of democracy to the people and country. The party restructured the remaining part of the country after the devastating 1971 war. It gave the country a constitution which has been a binding factor in the ensuing years. It established several national assets like Pakistan State Oil, the nuclear programme, the National Engineering Services of Pakistan, over 40 universities, local bodies system, and so on. The 1977 martial law started a period of trouble, turmoil, and terror for the PPP. Bhutto and several of his followers met the gallows without budging from their stance on people’s supremacy. They wrote the history of heroism with their blood.
Benazir Bhutto picked the party mission where it was left by her father until December 27, 2007, and left the world mourning and her followers in a deep shock. Asif Ali Zardari took her mission forward. Viewing the upheavals the party has endured it is a miracle it is still alive and active. PPP is a national asset and needs to be valued by the people of Pakistan