Electoral reforms

The formation of this committee is a step in the right direction, but producing results is a Herculean task.

Editorial July 26, 2014

The holding of free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan is still something of a dream. The previous election, according to most of the external election monitors, was one of the more honest that has been held, and although there were clear instances of rigging of results in the big picture, they were not enough to affect the overall outcome. The outcry over the tallying in a handful of seats occupies a disproportionate amount of time and misdirected political energy, but it is fair to say that our electoral system is long overdue for an overhaul. A task that is fraught with difficulties and pitfalls, not the least being that there are many who would not wish for a system where it was more difficult to stuff ballot boxes and where they would have to conduct electoral business honestly and transparently.

The National Assembly speaker on July 25 notified the names of a 33-member electoral reform committee, having received the list of senators who were nominated by the Upper House. They have a large job. Evaluating the shortcomings of the previous election and making recommendations that will have to get through the firewall erected by those bent on foiling their endeavours is complex and politically potentially dangerous. The 33 is made up of all parties proportional to their representation in Parliament and is tasked to report in three months — a pinchingly narrow window considering the task at hand. Already there is uncertainty about who will lead this disparate group and it is unlikely to be plain sailing given the polarised nature of the political landscape. The committee is going to have to elect its own chairperson internally. Assuming the committee holds together long enough to deliver a final report, it is to be hoped that e-voting features high on their list of reforms. The system proved to be a massive success in India this past election as it has elsewhere in the world where it has been introduced. Pakistan needs electoral reform of that there is no doubt. The formation of this committee is a step in the right direction, but producing results is a Herculean task.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.

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Ghulam Ali | 9 years ago | Reply

Dear editor, do you know how "foreign observers" monitor elections??? If you have one iota of their "minoring" you would not have written this "editorial"...

Naeem Khan Manhattan,Ks | 9 years ago | Reply

It is like asking the fox to guard the chicken coop, are they kidding? Some of these so called elected are in the Senate and Parliament because they used heavy handedness and all sort of tricks they could muster to be in the above said houses. The laws needs to be strengthened at the ballot box, it was strange that magnetic ink was mysteriously absent knowing fully well the consequences. If some of those people whether returning officers or who ever they were should have been prosecuted and sent to jail to cool their heels for a few years, that would deter some of these cheatings. Who says that appointing judiciary is the most prudent way at the polling stations, does any one really thinks that judiciary is really that clean and honest to conduct fair elections, I think not. E-voting is efficient and could be fraud free to some extent but knowing some of our politicians, who will guarantee that those machines will not be tampered with, after all those machines are programmed by humans, it seems that even the higher officials of NADRA turned off the cameras and did mischief with the ballot boxes in their possession. My friend, it all come down to the society and how society conducts itself.

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