The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to print the amended nomination forms without the president’s approval in order to avoid delay – a move that is likely to spark a new row between the commission and the government.
Law Minister Farooq H Naek has said that the president has the final word in the matter but the ECP is of the view that a proposed draft is sent to the president only to fulfill a formality.
In a press release issued on Monday, election authorities said that only those nomination forms would be printed which were approved by the ECP itself. It added that the ECP mandate was to conduct free, fair and transparent elections under Article 218 of the Constitution, and the approval of the president under Section 107 of Representation Of the People Act (ROPA) is a mere formality.
The Supreme Court has also stated that the ECP “is empowered and independent to do all that is necessary to fulfill its constitutional mandate and instruct that it do so”, it said.
The ECP had sent its proposed nomination form to the president for approval on February 20, 2013, the commission said. However, the commission failed to get a response till a meeting with the law minister on March 7, 2013, during which he had raised a number of objections to the proposed nomination form.
The ECP, in turn, requested the law minister to submit his objections in writing immediately so they could be considered. The law ministry sent its objections on March 8, 2013, to which the commission replied immediately stating that it did not agree with the objections and requested the law ministry to send the proposed nomination form to the president for approval latest by March 11, 2013 (yesterday).
Since printing of the nomination papers had to start yesterday (March 11), the ECP could not wait for the president’s approval any longer, stated the press release.
If the bill on electoral reforms is not tabled in the National Assembly, which meets for the last time today, the presidential ordinance will be only the viable option to introduce electoral reforms.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2013.