Election Commission eyes strategy

Meeting to devise a strategy to deal with violations of election rules by some of the country’s highest offices.


Irfan Ghauri September 11, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has called a meeting on September 16 to devise a strategy to deal with violations of election rules by some of the country’s highest offices, including that of the prime minister and the chief ministers.

The flouting of election laws at the highest level is a common practice whereby state resources are openly used to affirm desired election results, making ECP a toothless body. The provincial chief election commissioners, secretary and joint secretaries of the commission, minister of interior, secretary interior, home ministers of the provinces, and their chief and home secretaries have been called by the chief election commissioner, to devise a prudent strategy to make the election process transparent.

According to working papers sent to these officials, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, “misuse of official position to influence results of election and paying visits to area of constituency by the prime minister, chief ministers, federal and provincial ministers and other dignitaries,” will be on top of the agenda of the meeting.

The working papers said that despite repeated directions by the chief election commissioner, a large number of complaints were received from contesting candidates.  State resources were used by the federal and provincial governments for a particular candidate or political party, in violation of the directives.

Moreover, the working paper said that the prime minister, chief ministers, provincial and federal ministers pay visits to the areas of constituency to launch development schemes to influence the result of an election in favour of their party candidate. This too is a clear violation of the code of conduct and is considered a serious crime by law.

Another issue to be discussed in the meeting will be the postings and transfers by the authorities, after the schedule for elections is announced.  This adversely impinges upon the transparency and neutrality of the polls. Under the law, once the election schedule is announced, no posting or transfer of any civil or police officer in the district where elections are to be held can take place till completion of the poll process.

Under Article 218, it is the duty of the election commission to organise and conduct the elections and make such arrangements that are necessary to ensure that the polls are conducted fairly.

Similarly, under Article 220 of the Constitution, all executive authorities that form the federal and provincial government are bound to assist the commission in the discharge of its functions. Besides constitutional guarantees given to ensure its sovereignty and to ensure fair polls, questions have also been raised on the role of the ECP in making the process transparent.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2010.

COMMENTS (1)

Syed A. Mateen | 11 years ago | Reply The Election Commission needs to be completely revamped. Short comings should be highlighted. Election Commission should ensure that in case if a candidate submit his or her degree to contest the election, his or her degree should be scrutinized before putting his or her name in the final list of the candidates contesting election from a particular constituency. Though the present government has amended the rules and in future elections the candidates are not required to submit the copies of degrees. Furthermore, the change is also needed while nominating candidates on technocrats seats. The technocrats should also not be required to submit the copies of their degrees, as the length of service in a particular field should be more than sufficient to prove that a person who has submitted a nomination paper for a technocrat seat is eligible for the candidature depending on the experience he or she holds in a particular field. The election rules should be made in a way that no political party should ask for extra time to submit the required documents of a candidate. The electronic voting system has not been introduced in the country. The election commission should make necessary arrangements that counting of votes should be done through electronic machines and not through the hand count. A Pakistan national no matter which political party he or she belongs to or an independent candidate should be allowed to submit his or her nomination papers after accepting his CNIC and his or her name entered in the electoral list. The election commission should leave the matter of degrees to respective party leaders whether they award party tickets to undergraduates, graduates, masters or PhD’s. The election commission has nothing to do with the qualification of a candidate, as the basic duty of an election commission in any country to hold the election in a transparent manner.
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