Election scrutiny

This refers to your editorial ‘Scrutiny of candidates’ (June 8). Unfortunately, in Pakistan, scrutiny of aspiring parliamentarians is done in a totally ineffective manner with the result that after elections, we see many of the parliamentarians disqualified and even convicted for their past misdeeds. With such flawed scrutiny, even transparent elections would not yield satisfactory results because the public would only have been given a choice to pick the best of a bad lot, which would be no good at all. In fact, for the good of the country and the nation, in addition to the pre-election scrutiny, we should also have an arrangement to keep the parliamentarians under surveillance all time.
We know that in well-run countries, all institutions work independently and responsibly. As such, even caretaker governments are considered unnecessary and the sitting governments conduct election the result of which all parties accept ungrudgingly. Unfortunately, near-complete absence of check and balance in our system creates a space, and indeed a need for institutions like Supreme Court – or even the military whose assistance is requested – to participate in the election process in order to give it some credibility. For example, when Parliament legislated to omit essential information from the nomination forms, the ECP objected to it but left the matter at that. Had ECP really been an empowered institution, it would have petitioned the Court to restrain government from committing acts that deprived the voters of essential information, violated the Constitution and were an intervention in the domain of ECP. And that means that until the time our institutions become really independent and responsible, a bit of ‘interference’ by powerful institutions including superior judiciary may not only be unavoidable but even desirable in the larger interest of the country and the nation.

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