The upcoming elections in Pakistan are going to be a historic event despite the threats of violence. This was stated by Gareth Aichken, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation on Friday.
He was speaking at a conference on “Code of conduct for political parties” organised by The Jinnah Institute here on Friday.
Leaders of various political parties were of the opinion that it was high time all political leaders showed sagacity and prudence while running their election campaigns as the whole world was watching Pakistan.
Earlier, director of the Jinnah Institute, Raza Rumi, shared some key findings of the institute, which it solicited from political parties, saying that the findings suggest that nearly all political parties have expressed their reservations over security issues and provision of a level playing field to everyone from across the political spectrum.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement representative, Izharul Haq, expressed serious reservation over delimitation of constituencies in Karachi by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), saying “We lost 11 seats when delimitation took place in Karachi in 2001”.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal leader, Jan Muhammad Khan Achakzai, dispelled the notion that his party discourages women from participating in elections.
“People point fingers at us for hindering women’s participation. This has to do more with the jirga tradition. It is in our interest that more and more women workers vote,” he said. He, however, claimed that women in rural areas generally feel more comfortable voting for a ‘religious and conservative party’.
The conduct of the ECP and returning officers was also criticised by the participants.
PTI leader, Col Younas, slated returning officers for asking irrelevant questions from candidates saying, “The whole world is watching us, let’s not make ourselves a laughing stock.”
PML-N leader, Siddque-ul-Farooq, said that the ECP and the returning officers should refrain from asking such extraneous questions.
Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood, said that the provision of security during elections was the greatest challenge for the army.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2013.