In order to ensure credibility in the polling process, election authorities have sought absolute control over the administrative machinery once a schedule for the next general elections is announced.
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan told a Senate panel on Thursday that to ensure fair and free elections, it is imperative that election authorities are given powers to take action against any official found manipulating the process in any manner.
“The ECP should have powers not only to make transfers of high administrative machinery, like chief secretaries, inspector general police and other top officials, but also to take direct action against anyone found involved in manipulating the election process,” Khan told a special Senate committee on election matters, led by Jahangir Badar.
Citing an example, he said election authorities in India enjoy such powers to ensure transparency in the election process.
Khan said that the ECP is a constitutional body, adding that under Article 220 of the Constitution, all executive authorities are bound to help it in performing its functions.
Currently the commission can only put a bar on transfers and postings of government officials once the election schedule is announced but the execution of its orders rests with executive authorities.
The involvement of government machinery to manipulate polls has been a common norm in the country, raising questions over the credibility of the entire election process.
The ECP secretary said that overseas Pakistanis already had the right to vote under the law, and only implementation was required. He said 3.7 million Pakistani expatriates had already been enrolled as voters but a mode for voting is yet to be determined.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ