ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) finally regained its full strength on Monday, following the long-awaited appointment of two of its members after a delay of almost one year.
President Dr Arif Alvi appointed Babar Hassan Bharwana and Justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan as members of the ECP from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) respectively. The President made the appointments under Article 218 (2) (b) of the Constitution on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Under the Constitution, the ECP consists of the Chief Election Commissioner and four members, one from each province. However, two positions had been vacant since July 26, 2021, following the retirement of Justice (retd) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi (Punjab) and Justice (retd) Irshad Qaiser (KP). Recently, the Commission observed that in terms of the Constitution and the Elections Act 2017, the electoral body was fully functional after questions were raised about its jurisdiction with two members yet to be appointed.
During the term of the previous PTI government, the issue of the appointment of ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan could not be resolved for around a year, owing to completely divergent positions of the then government and the opposition. The process was marked by indirect consultation between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif after the failure of a parliamentary committee to reach a decision after both sides had sent separate lists to it and the controversy involving a unilateral notification of two ECP members by the government and the refusal of then Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Raza to administer the oath to them.
Babar Hassan Bharwana has served as secretary Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries and Irrigation in Punjab. Moreover, from August 2007 to May 2008, he also served as director general Local Government and Community Development. He has served as additional secretary, Home Department, Irrigation and Power Department, and Environment.
Justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan, who hails from Swat, graduated from Government Postgraduate Jehanzeb Collage, Saidu Sharif, and obtained an LLB degree from Sindh Muslim Law Collage, Karachi, in 1988. He also worked as additional advocate general from April 17, 2008 to October 31, 2009. He retired as a judge of the Peshawar High Court in December 2020. His name was on top of the list of three candidates proposed by PM Imran Khan to then Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif in August.