Create consensus on electoral reforms

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IN a significant development, a meeting of parliamentary representatives chaired by Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser agreed on Tuesday to the formation of a parliamentary panel on electoral reforms.

The development came amidst a raging controversy over government plans for two election related bills providing for introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and right to vote for overseas Pakistanis possibly through I-voting system.

Agreement on formation of a Committee indicates that the government has dropped the plan to get the legislation passed from the joint sitting of parliament. Indeed electoral reforms are a very sensitive matter and solo flight cannot be taken on it.

For the success of any reforms, it is important that all the political parties put their heads together and move forward with consensus whilst giving no consideration to political expediency or petty political interests.

It is lamentable that after every election, the losing parties accuse the ruling party of stealing the vote.

The people are fed up to hear such allegations time and again. Therefore, the reforms must be comprehensive enough to address all the loopholes in the current electoral system.

As regards the use of EVMs, both the government and opposition parties should give a patient hearing to each other’s point of view.

At the platform of the Parliamentary Committee, they must hold detailed discussion on the merits and demerits of the voting machines.

About giving right of franchise to Overseas Pakistanis, there should not be any opposition to this proposal.

These expatriate Pakistanis are our greatest asset contributing immensely to the economy through their remittances. In every difficult hour, they have been forthcoming to help their countrymen. Hence, they should not be deprived of their right as a Pakistani.

In fact, the very move will help us to woo their investment in different sectors of the economy. After formation, the Parliamentary Committee should complete its work in the given timeline.

The eyes of the entire nation will be on the working of this Committee and if it agrees and comes up with a consensus document on electoral reforms, it will be a great service and help further promote democracy and democratic norms in the country.

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