Imran Khan may have complained about polling arrangements after almost every election but within his own party there is a growing realisation that street shows alone cannot change the system, pushing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf towards more transparency measures.
The party, which started participating in parliamentary committee on electoral reforms after eight months of absence in April this year, recently held a brainstorming session, in which the PTI lawmakers shared the proposals that they have made to the electoral reforms committee.
Its lawmakers Dr Arif Alvi, Shafqat Mehmood and Shireen Mazari are a part of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms.
According to a senior PTI official, the party has highlighted that appointment of polling staff as one of the key issues of the polling process as handpicked officials allegedly serve the interest of those who appoint them. Therefore, the party now wants a swap of officials and has proposed that the polling staff of one province should be appointed in the other provinces to ensure impartiality.
Similarly, the PTI has expressed reservations on security arrangements on the polling stations. In this regard, it has proposed that deployment of army inside the polling stations should be made a permanent feature. Earlier, the PTI had also demanded deployment of army during by-elections at the NA-122 Lahore and for NA-154 Lodhran constituencies.
The party also wants electronic voting machines to be used in the next elections. However, it also demands that the counting process should be carried out through a paper trail. “This proposal has been made to avoid possible rigging through ‘software’,” said the PTI official.
During the meeting, PTI central leader Dr Arif Alvi also asked members to give their input. Party chief Imran Khan did not attend the briefing due to other pressing engagements. However, he has asked citizens to give their suggestions.
The meeting also discussed the party’s policy regarding the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and it was decided that members would continue highlighting the party’s concern about the ECP’s provincial members; however, it has virtually dropping the idea of holding protest rallies over the issue.
Earlier, Finance Minsiter Ishaq Dar, who also heads the reforms committee, had revealed that the committee has received a total of 1,283 proposals comprising over 4,000 pages from various quarters including civil society organisations, lawyers and general public.
Delimitation of Constituencies Act, 1974; Electoral Rolls Act, 1974; Political Parties Order, 2002; Allocation of Symbols Order, 2002; Election Commission Order, 2002; and partly, the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1976 (RoPA) are being discussed for improvements by the reforms committee.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2015.