- CEC resigns office after apparent displeasure with SC decision
- Says new parliament should have the luxury of choosing new CEC
- Analyst says resignation could be Punjab government’s move to delay LG polls
Following severe criticism from a majority of opposition parties over alleged vote-fraud in May 11 election and abdicating authority to other state institutions regarding rescheduling of presidential election, chief election commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim on Wednesday resigned his post, only a day after the country got its new president elected.
With only a year in office, the CEC failed to mention any profound and logical reasoning for his premature departure from the national election watchdog.
“In accordance with Article 215(3) of the constitution, I hereby resign from the office of the chief election commissioner of Pakistan,” the CEC said in his resignation, a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today.
The presidential spokesman confirmed receiving the resignation.
The retired justice, commonly known as Fakhru bhai, took charge of his office on July 23, 2012 as the CEC for a tenure of four years. His appointment had become all the more eventful in the annals of history, as it was a unique occasion that the government, opposition and all political parties reposed their utmost confidence while nominating him as the CEC.
Interestingly, Ebrahim, who is known and respected for his integrity, principles and professionalism, has a history of resigning from various posts.
He was appointed as the attorney general for Pakistan by then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1971, but he tendered resignation on July 5, 1977 after General Zia imposed Martial Law.
Later, Ebrahim was appointed the Sindh governor by Benazir Bhutto in 1989, but he again resigned in 1990 once Bhutto was removed as prime minister. Ebrahim again resigned as the caretaker law minister in 1996 after developing differences with president Sardar Farooq Leghari.
The recent polls of May 11 became controversial and led to massive criticism of the CEC and his colleagues.
Later, the media also joined the lamenting after the election commission’s inability to stand to the apex court’s pressure over rescheduling of the presidential election.
Ebrahim submitted his resignation the very next day of presidential election, which was conducted on Supreme Court’s order, a move which apparently annoyed the CEC.
Though the CEC did not mention solid reason of his resignation, some analyst termed the move part of a covert effort by the Punjab government to get the local body polls delayed.
Since there would be no chief election commissioner, the local body election would be delayed for some time, analysts opined.
However, reliable sources in the ECP told Pakistan Today that the CEC was displeased with the Supreme Court’s decision to change the presidential elections schedule form August 6 to July 30.
The sources said the CEC was of the view that the Supreme Court decision was tantamount to meddling into the independence of the Election Commission’s authority.
Per sources, the CEC made an effort to persuade members of the commission for not obeying the Supreme Court order, but three of the four members did not support him.
“The CEC had also written a note declaring the court decision as an attack on the independence of the ECP, however, despite repeated attempts, he failed to get the note endorsed from ECP members. And after being disappointed, the CEC decided to tender resignation,” the sources added.
The presidential election was originally fixed by the ECP to be held on August 6 and the commission had earlier rejected the government’s request to change the date of the poll.
However, the ruling PML-N moved the SC, which decided in favour of ruling party.
The main opposition PPP boycotted the presidential election as a result, saying the SC and ECP deprived it of the right to campaign.
After the judgment of the Supreme Court, opposition parties strongly criticised the ECP and SC, demanding the CEC resign.
“I was appointed through a consultative process by the last parliament. However, in my humble opinion, the newly elected members of the parliament should have the opportunity to forge new consensus and choose a new chief election commissioner. This will also allow the next chief election commissioner sufficient time and opportunity to prepare and lead the Election Commission for the general elections of 2018,” the resignation submitted by Ebrahim said.
The CEC further stated that in the performance of professional duties, he had done his utmost to hold true the democratic values, the dictates of his conscience and the commands of the constitution.
“I am proud that the Election Commission acted without fear or favor and strived to create as level a playing field as was possible. Despite personal threats and even brazen gun attack on my family – I quietly stood firm against those forces who first tried to derail and then delay the 2013 Elections.”