With questions on the legitimacy of the May 2013 elections cooking up a whirlwind, the speaker of the National Assembly is likely to summon the first meeting of the parliamentary electoral reforms committee after Eid.
According to sources, the committee is likely to elect its chairman during its first session and discuss its terms of reference during its second meeting. The delay in calling the first meeting had been blamed on Chairman Senate Nayyar Hussain Bokhari who, according to an official of the National Assembly secretariat, took an inordinate amount of time in sending in names of nominated senators.
Discussing the final make-up of the committee, political commentators have observed that nine members of the 33-member Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms are also members of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms that was constituted under the historic 18th Amendment.
Similarly, out of a total of 18 political parties that have representation in the National Assembly, only three have been ignored. “Will you believe that [out of seven single legislator parties] only three parties – namely Balochistan National Party (Mengal), National Party and General (retd) Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) – have been ignored in the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms,” a political observer commented.
Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director of Center for Civic Education, told The Express Tribune that the 33 member Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms has zero representation of ‘citizens of other faith’ (minorities), though they too have a number of problems with the electoral system of representation, including questions on whether joint or separate electorates are better suited for their representation. “The majority will once again decide the fate of minorities,” noted Zafarullah Khan.
A similar lack of balance is noted in the paltry nomination of women on the committee. Only four members are women, namely Anusha Rehman from PML-N, Naeema Kishwar from JUI-F, Shazia Marri from PPPP and Dr Shireen Mazari of PTI.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2014.