Short tenure of members to affect ECP working

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The Citizens Group on Electoral Process (CGEP) on Tuesday demanded that the Parliament should fix the term of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) at five years, similar to the tenure of the chief election commissioner (CEC).
The group, facilitated by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), reviewed the Members, Election Commission (Oath of Office, Salary, Allowances, Perks and Privileges) Bill 2011, which has been introduced in the National Assembly on November 21.
It noted with concern that the bill, if passed in its current form by the Parliament, would fix the term of office of the ECP members at two years from the date they took the oath of the office. It opined that the move would prove detrimental to the smooth functioning and independence of the ECP, as the CEC had also recommended a five-year term fro the members.
The CGEP said the 18th Amendment had increased the term of the office of CEC from three to five years and highlighted that the CEC and the members served for the same period everywhere in the World, including in the South Asian region.
“The term of the chief election commissioner and the members of the election commission in India is six years, while Sri Lanka and Bangladesh provide for a five-year term.”
The group demanded the government to revise the bill and asked the parliamentarians not pass the law in its present form.
The CGEP also noted that the current government and Parliament deserved the credit for appointing the four full-time permanent members of the ECP for the first time in the history of the country in accordance with the 18th Amendment, as the serving judges of the high court served as part-time members before the constitutional change.
“The four members of the ECP were inducted on June 13, 2011 following a bi-partisan consensus which is a rare feat in the history of the country. It is important that the Government consolidates these gains rather than diluting their effect.”
“A short term of the members especially when it is about to end right after the scheduled date of general elections will subject the members to undue pressure,” the CGEP feared.
Members of the Citizens Group who were part of the meeting included Pakistan Today Editor Arif Nizami, Dr Moeed Pirzada, ARY News Executive Director Special Projects Fahd Hussain, Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, Babar Sattar Advocate, Ghazi Salahuddin, Daily Pakistan Editor-in-Chief Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, former Punjab governor Shahid Hamid, Balochistan Times Editor-in-Chief Syed Fasih Iqbal, PILDAT Executive Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, and other prominent personalities.