Local government in focus: Lawmakers discuss ways to improve electoral process

Exchange ideas on how elections can be held more efficiently


Our Correspondent March 29, 2016
Minister for Local Government and Rurual Development Inayatullah Khan addressing the seminar organised by DRI. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

PESHAWAR: Criticisms floated in as participants discussed the way local government elections were held in K-P at a seminar arranged by Democracy Reporting International (DRI) at a hotel in Peshawar on Monday.

The participants were of the opinion the local government (LG) elections in K-P were held under a weak legal framework, which led to practical problems in managing the electoral process.

While addressing the participants, Vladimir Pran, DRI’s lead expert for the assessment in K-P, said, “As per international standards, electoral laws should clearly define basic elements of an electoral process; without this, there is a lack of clarity, leading to the provincial government and election administration having excessive powers.”



He added definitions of many key areas, such as the electoral system, were left at the discretion of the K-P government. This caused problems as duties of the K-P government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were not divided with clarity, thereby affecting many things in the electoral process, including security.

Hassan Nasir Mirbahar, DRI’s team leader in Pakistan, said, “There was confusion about who was responsible for managing security personnel, which led to interruption in the electoral process at a number of polling stations.”  Mirbahar added, “In the end, the ECP and government were blaming each other for security lapses.”

Transparency

According to the team leader, the current electoral laws are not comprehensive enough, causing problems in the accountability and transparency of the election. Due to lacking legal provisions, the accreditation of observers is left to ECP’s discretion. “Weak transparency and observation provisions and practices risk corruption in the process”, he added. “This does not help Pakistan in fulfilling its international commitments.”

Minister for Local Government and Rurual Development Inayatullah Khan said, “There are flaws in our LG system and the way the elections were held. However, it was a learning experience and we are working on improving the electoral process.” He said the K-P government was collaborating with all stakeholders in this regard. “Our local government election were held on a large scale and every voter had to cast seven ballots, which delayed the elections results,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th,  2016.

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