ISLAMABAD: A constitutional petition challenging the appointment of Justice (retd) Tahir Ali Shah as the Chief Election Commissioner, Gilgit Baltistan, was filed in the Supreme Court last Tuesday.

Ameer Khan, Provincial President of Aam Admi Party of Pakistan in Gilgit Baltistan, filed the petition in the apex court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution through his counsel Syed Sardar Hussain, making the Federation through the Cabinet Division, Pak Secretariat Islamabad, chairman Gilgit Baltistan, secretary Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Kashmir Affairs Gilgit Baltistan and Justice (retd) Tahir Ali Shah, Chief Election Commissioner Gilgit Baltistan as respondents.

The petitioner prayed to the apex court to strike down the Gilgit Baltistan (Empowerment and Self Governance) Order 2009 and further to strike down the impugned notification, annul the appointment of Justice (retd) Tahir Ali Shah as the Chief Election Commissioner, Gilgit Baltistan. The petitioner submitted that in Pakistan appointment of chief election commissioner is done through the development of a consensus between the leader of the house and leader of the opposition. However, in Gilgit Baltistan, the appointment of chief election commissioner has been done wholly arbitrarily and unilaterally by the prime minister of Pakistan whose party holds only two seats.

“Thus the process of consultation that was required to be done has not been undertaken and none of the other stakeholders have been taken on board,” the petitioner contended.He said that in Gilgit Baltistan, the Pakistan People’s Party holds the majority of seats (21), the PML-Q holds the next higher number of seats (3) while PML-N holds only two seats.

He further said that the person selected for this important office was not most suitable for it as he was a committed party worker of the PML-N.The petitioner stated that the Gilgit Baltistan (Empowerment and Self Governance) Order 2009 is presented as the basic law supra the Constitution of Pakistan while it is only an Executive Order published by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas without any constitutional or legal authority. It is thus a nullity in law.

The petitioner submitted that usually the elections of Gilgit Baltistan legislative assembly are held in September or October since its existence but it has come to his knowledge that the so called elections will commence on the direction of the federal government and are going to be held in May 2015 which is not a feasible and suitable time for the election.

 In the area most of the people will not be available for exercising their right of franchise but the authorities will be able to cast the bogus votes according to the directions of their bosses, which will not be fair and transparent.

 He further contended that in all the seven districts having 2.5 million population, people will shift to the mountainous area in that season who cannot come to cast their votes, adding thatcutting crops and the participation of the voters are not possible.

 “It would be most damaging nationally and internationally to conduct election in the month of May in that area or even the elections to appear to be absolutely free, fair and impartial”, the petitioner submitted.

 He prayed to the apex court to direct the respondents to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner by involving all the parties through the leader of the house and leader of the opposition in that Assembly.

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