Political system at stake | By Kanwar M Dilshad

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Political system at stake

CHIEF Justice of Islamabad High Court has rejected a petition of Senator Faisal Vawda challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan to probe into a matter pertaining to his disqualification.

Authored by Chief Justice Athar Minallah; the High Court while disposing of the petition expressed the hope that the Election Commission of Pakistan would conclude its proceedings expeditiously with due diligence, perforbably within 60 days from the date of receiving the certified copy of this order.

In its order, the Islamabad High Court declared that the completion of the probe regarding falsity or otherwise of the affidavit submitted by Mr Vawda was mandatory in the light of an earlier direction by the Supreme Court of Pakistan requiring all candidates for the national as well as the Provisional Assembles to furnish affidavit along with their nomination papers and that failure to file such affidavit would render the nomination papers incomplete and liable to be rejected.

According to the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruling, if an affidavit or any part of it is found to be false, it will have its consequences as contemplated by the Constitution and the law also entailing penalty as if filling a false affidavit before the apex court. After his election, Mr Vawda furnished his affidavit.

The order explained that neither the Election Commission of Pakistan nor the High Court have the power or jurisdiction to interfere with the unambiguous directions of the Supreme Court and thus the Election Commission of Pakistan’s power to probe the falisity was conferred upon it pursuant to the to the apex court directions.

The court expressed the hope that the petitioner would establish his bonafides by participating in the proceedings before the Election commission of Pakistan regarding the probe relating to the affidavit, failing which it would amount to an attempt to frustrate the implementation of the unambiguous orders of the Supreme Court.

The Punjab government is in a pretty pickle for delaying the implementation of the Supreme Court orders of restoring the local governments in the province for more than seven months. Now the Punjab government kept dragging its feet and now it must face the music.

When the landmark 18th Amendment to the constitution was passed in April 2010, devolving substantial administrative and fiscal powers from the centre to the provinces, it had spawned widespread expectations that politicians would take the process of devolution further down to the gross roots level for better governance and services delivery.

It did not happen, instead, the provincial governments have been slow to establish local governments, dragging their feet on holding local elections let alone transferring powers and funds for them to function effectively. Now it is the time for the politicians to walk the talk.

The political parties need to come together to amend the constitution in Article 140-A and 132 to define a uniform tenure of local governments in all provinces, as well as ensure regular elections after the expiry of their term.

As in the case of the national and provincial assemblies for strengthening local government democracy in the country.

Moreover, the constitution must provide for devolution of the minimum level of administrative and fiscal powers from the provinces to the local governments.

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

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