Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid will lead a 33-member electoral reforms committee, likely to be notified by Monday, as the ruling party makes a renewed effort to defuse Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) August 14 rally against alleged rigging in last year’s election.
The house, under rule 244(B) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007, authorised the speaker to constitute the committee in consultation with the Senate chairman and leaders of the parliamentary parties.
The committee – to comprise members of all parliamentary parties in proportion to their representation in parliament – will evaluate the shortcomings of the previous elections and make recommendations for electoral reforms to ensure that polls are held in a free, fair and transparent manner.
It will work on the pattern of the parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms that drafted the 18th Amendment. It may make rules for regulating its procedure and shall present its report to parliament within three months from the date of the notification of the committee.
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq has finalised 22 names for the said committee while Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain will submit 11 more names till July 24.
Federal minister Lt Gen (Rtd) Abdul Qadir and MPs Anusha Rehman, Naveed Qamar, Shazia Marri are part of the committee. Three members each from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) will be included in it.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has forwarded the names of the Senate opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan, the PPP’s parliamentary leader in Senate Mian Raza Rabbani and the upper house’s former chairman Farooq H Naek, while the other four members will be recommended by other opposition parties.
Zahid Hamid, who was law minister during former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, will lead the committee. Hamid was also awarded the law ministry’s portfolio in the cabinet but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken back charge from him after initiation of the treason trial against Musharraf.
Hamid is considered a key abettor in the decision for November 3, 2007 emergency rule. The defence team of Musharraf also named him as an abettor.
The speaker may replace any member of the committee on request of the leader of the parliamentary party concerned. Quorum to constitute a sitting parliamentary committee for electoral reforms shall be one-fourth of the total membership.
PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari welcomed this step and said that her party was given due representation in this committee and its demands were also incorporated as this panel would also investigate irregularities into the previous elections.
She said that the main opposition parties the PTI and the PPP had agreed to work closely to press the government on electoral reforms.
The National Assembly speaker said every political party would be given representation in the electoral reform committee.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.