KARACHI: Delimitation, mismanagement of returning officers, unavailability of data and underrepresentation of minorities were the main problems during the local government (LG) elections last year.
This was revealed by the Democracy Reporting International (DR) assessment report of the 2015 local bodies’ polls. DRI organised a seminar to discuss the findings and recommendations of the report at a local hotel on Friday.
DRI election expert Vladimir Pran remarked that the election process lacked transparency, saying voters did not possess sufficient knowledge regarding their respective constituencies.
Speaking about the delimitation process, he said there was a major difference of votes in different constituencies as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) officials lacked technical expertise.
Pran recommended that ECP should conduct fresh delimitation independently and involve the public. This will make the information readily accessible and ensure transparency of the whole process, he added.
The ECP lacks proper legislation, pointed out DRI team leader Hassan Nasir. “Instead of implementing ad-hoc rules every election, the government should enact permanent legislation.” The results were also not clarified as they were delayed, claimed Nasir. The election commission only highlighted the winning candidates instead of giving proper results of all the candidates, he added.
If the existing system improves and transparent elections are ensured, then we will not even require bio-metrics, said Alyia Bano from DRI while speaking to The Express Tribune.
Pran criticised the election commission’s system for tackling with complaints. “How was the election commission adjudicating complaints against its own work?” Nasir added that legislation regarding the scrutiny process should be amended to provide rights to observers, including access to all stages of the electoral process.
Hannah Roberts, who is heading the assessment team of DRI in Balochistan and Sindh, spoke about the participation of women and minorities during the LG elections.
Female participation was worse at women’s polling booths, she said, adding that there was also lack of female nominees in the elections.
Speaking about minorities, she said oaths should be amended so that freedom of religion is not compromised during the nomination process.
She also recommended that areas where there was minimal female participation should be investigated to identify factors behind the lack of participation.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2016.