The head of the Senate’s special committee on election reform shot down a proposal on Thursday to grant 10% party tickets to female candidates so that they could directly contest polls.
The proposal was drawn up earlier by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid lawmaker Riaz Fatyana who was specially invited to attend the panel meeting. Fatyana had also proposed that elections in the polling stations should be declared null and void in case there is less than 10% turnout of registered female voters.
PML-N Senator Ishaq Dar, who presided over the special committee meeting, argued if political parties are forced to allocate women 10% party tickets then they are likely to be given tickets of such constituencies where there is a little chance to win.
Qadri’s demand rejected
The committee rejected Minhajul Quran International’s chief Dr Tahirul Qadri’s demand to allocate 30 days for scrutinising the credentials of poll candidates. PML-N Senator Ishaq Dar opposed the move, saying that panel members should not accept any demand or commitment made on the streets. Dar’s view was endorsed by other committee members as well.
Dar also expressed concern over a move to inform voters through SMS about polling stations, saying that since most rural voters don’t have cell phones it will be “a counterproductive exercise”. He also suggested a review of the code which restricts political parities from arranging transport for voters.
Fatyana, who is also the chairman of National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights, said that women should be brought into the mainstream of politics by encouraging them to contest direct elections. One of his suggestions was also to amend the Peoples Representatives Act 1976 and give them one-fourth representation in the key policymaking bodies of political parties. In Pakistan, Fatyana observed, political leaders are rich but parties are poor and such an amendment would be helpful to citizens from poor financial background.
Senator Jahangir Badar informed the committee that all the committee’s recommendations were incorporated by the ECP into the code of conduct. He said that the amendments will be finalised on Friday and to be presented in parliament in the coming sessions.
The panel will finalise its report on Friday.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2013.