PPP wants govt tenure reduced to four years

* Shah demands more powers for chief election commissioner; says permitting only a judge to become CEC has limited options for this key constitutional post

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah has called for introducing constitutional amendments to reduce the government’s tenure to four years from existing five years, and empowering the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to primarily enable the chief election commissioner (CEC) to play his role effectively.
Shah floated this idea in a set of proposals that he forwarded to the National Assembly speaker for Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms on Tuesday. The committee is expected to function sooner after all parties nominated their members on this 33-member body. Putting forward the proposal to shorten the tenure of the government from five to four years, Shah, however proposed that it should be implemented after the present democratic government completes its five-year constitutional term.
Citing the rationale for this proposal, the opposition leader felt that all disputes arise due to the ruling party’s five-year stay in government, as people become impatient with such long tenure. “Once this is done, all disputes would settle,” he opined. Shah however did not stop on four years of government’s tenure and proposed to increase it to five years again when democracy is stable and strengthened fully. “In a strong democracy we can again enhance the constitutional term of the government,” he observed.
The reduction in tenure of the government has long been echoing in the political arena of the country and even surfaced during the last PPP government, which completed its five-year term when Khursheed Shah was a part of that government. In his proposals, Khursheed Shah also called for empowering the chief election commissioner (CEC) who, he said, should have full authority to implement decisions. Currently the CEC’s role is like a member of the ECP and it should be changed to entrust him with powers, he said.
Shah also questioned the qualification for appointment of the CEC and believed that permitting only a judge to become the CEC has limited the options for this key constitutional post of the country. “Currently only a judge can become a CEC, which makes options very limited. “If we can’t find a suitable judge, where then do we get a CEC?” he asked. He called for making constitutional amendments to make the senior lawyers and bureaucrats eligible for the post of CEC. Shah said that all the proposals for electoral reforms and strengthening of democracy in the country have been chalked out after thorough consultation and to give the best input for the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms.

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