ECP rejects 28 Clauses of Electoral Reforms Bill | By Kanwar M Dilshad


ECP rejects 28 Clauses of Electoral Reforms Bill

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has unanimously expressed serious concern over some clauses of the Electoral Reforms Bill passed by the National Assembly including voting rights for Overseas Pakistani and use of electronic voting machines and has assessed that many proposed amendments may violate constitutional requirements.

It is astonishing that the ECP was not taken into confidence while drafting the Bill which is why it has now raised objections which it feels will be detrimental to the holding of free, fair, transparent and credible elections.

It is further showing hypocrisy and evidence that the opposition members were part of the Parliamentary Committee which passed the bill.

However, many opposition members abstained during the proceedings which enabled the government to have the bill passed.

Ministry of Science and Technology will complete development of Electronic Voting Machines by mid of July this year and will show demonstration to the ECP which will also show it to political parties of Parliament.

A report of Spanish firm has also been received by Election Commission which says some thing serious about NADRA system. Internet voting system requires revamp. Its learned Election Commission of Pakistan is studying it at the moment.

A delegating of opposition parties met Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and conveyed to him the Opposition parties concerns over the government decision to introduce electronic voting machines in the next general election [2023].

Opposition parties are of the view that we came to meet the Chief Election Commissioner to convey their grievances on electoral reforms which should have been debated in Parliament and decision should have been made keeping in mind views of all political parties.

The Bill that the PTI government has bulldozed through the NA is a direct subversion to electoral and democratic system.

Its first time in the Election Commission’s history since 1956 the opposition has stood behind the ECP.

The Opposition parties are apprehensive that the government wanted to institutionalise rigging and also curtail the Election Commission powers through the bills Election Commission reports on electronic and Internet voting weren’t tabled in the Parliament over the last three years.

Instead, the government bulldozed this bill. For EVMs and Internet voting to be introduced in Pakistan, all political parties must agree to it.

The ECP has already expressed its reservations on the sensitive issue in the Parliamentary Committee and the government should let the ECP do its Constitutional obligation as per article 2019 instead of finding ways to pressurise it which is negation to Articles 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2024.

In the present circumstances the government is very keen in introducing EVMs and Internet voting for Overseas Pakistanis the Federal Government appointed Tariq Malik who is currently serving at the United Nations Development programme, as NADRA Chairman again.

Tariq Malik is of international fame and naturally he would work on EVMs and Internet voting and assist ECP’s Strategy, keeping in view Article 2019.

The Elections Amendments Bill 2020 was passed by the National Assembly on 10 June as major changes in the Bill include more financial autonomy to the ECP… vacation of seats of returned candidate if oath is not taken within 60 days of the first sitting of the Assembly, voting right for Overseas Pakistanis and use of EVMs in elections.

In democracy any election related legislation must be based on neutrality, impartiality and objectivity.

—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.

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