The Election Commission of Pakistan is facing another hitch – this time from the ministry of law and justice – over the amendments it proposed in the nomination forms for the upcoming polls.
In his meeting with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim on Thursday, Law Minister Farooq H Naek conveyed his ministry’s reservations over the details being asked from prospective candidates under the amendments.
“We have certain reservations over the extent of details being asked from contestants in the nomination forms. There are some unnecessary repetitions in the proposed format,” sources quoted Naek as saying in the meeting. The law minister confirmed his ministry’s reservations while talking to journalists later on in the day.
According to the sources, Naek did not elaborate his ministry’s objections and simply claimed there were certain legal hitches against the ECP’s proposed format. They added the CEC asked the minister to convey all objections in writing. It is unclear when the ministry will send its response to the ECP.
It was the second meeting between ECP officials and the law minister after the commission forwarded the proposed format to the law ministry two weeks ago. Sources said the commission wants the format passed urgently since it needs to have the nomination forms printed and distributed in districts across the country.
ECP has proposed adding sections for financial history, tax details and foreign trips among other details to the revised nomination forms. In an attempt to discourage tax defaulters, loan defaulter and other offenders from participating in the polls, the commission has also sought the help of the State Bank, tax authorities and other departments concerned to verify the details provided by candidates.
As changes in nomination forms do not need parliamentary legislation, the commission was confident its proposed format would be adopted without any hassle and would receive the presidential nod. Under the procedure, ECP forwards its proposals in such matters to the law ministry, which later forwards them to the President after incorporating its input.
ECP rejects petition against ‘secretive’ PPPP polls
On Thursday, ECP rejected former senator Safdar Abbasi’s petition challenging the authenticity of what he termed ‘secretive’ intra-party polls organised by the Pakistan Peoples Party-Parliamentarians (PPPP) last month.
Abbasi had asked the election authorities to declare the ruling party’s intra-party polls ‘null and void’. According to sources, the ECP rejected the petition saying it had no legal say in political parties’ internal matters.
Finance ministry to release Rs1b for ECP
Finance Minister Saleem Mandviwalla promised to release another Rs1 billion for the ECP during his meeting with the CEC on Thursday.
The commission had sought Rs5.9 billion for the upcoming elections, of which only Rs2 billion had been released by the ministry earlier. Sources say finance ministry officials assured the ECP that the remaining amount, in addition to the Rs1 billion announced by Mandviwalla, will be released shortly as well.
Meeting at GHQ
An ECP delegation is likely to meet the top army brass at the General Headquarters (GHQ) today (Friday) to discuss security arrangements for the upcoming polls.
In addition to discussing the law and order situation in the country, the delegation would take up the deployment of army personnel at sensitive polling stations during the electoral process. ECP wants the army to provide security in sensitive areas, Karachi in particular, and an escort for key staff deputed there.
Earlier, the commission had approached the defence secretary to provide 20,000 army troops for security while its staff conducted door-to-door voter verification in Karachi. It was learnt, however, that the secretary spared less than 5,000 personnel for the exercise.
It appears that this time around, ECP has decided to approach the army brass directly instead, after being dissatisfied by the secretary.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2013.