Proposed electoral reforms vs foreign funding case debate | By Kanwar M Dilshad

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Proposed electoral reforms vs foreign funding case debate


THE Speaker National Assembly has constituted a five-member Parliamentary Committee to engage the Opposition for seeking their consensus on the electoral reforms.

The Committee comprises Defence Minister, Information Minister, Minister for Development, Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Malik Amir Dogar.

The Speaker constituted the Committee as Prime Minister Imran Khan had written him a letter to initiate the task of electoral reforms by constituting a parliamentary committee.

Immediately after the announcement, the main opposition parties rejected the Speaker’s decision, saying that Speaker has no right and powers to form any Committee without the approval of the House and that they didn’t have trust in the Speaker as well as the ruling PTI and the PTI-led government.

It is my considered opinion, perhaps, thee Speaker does not know the rules. He has no authority to do so. This is the obligation of Parliament.

Any Committee, other than the Standing Committee is constituted with the approval of the House.

On the past long experience of electoral system, I have sent a reference to the Speaker about EVMs and Internet balloting for Overseas Pakistani with full documentation mentioning its pros and cons on 30 March but as usual the Speaker didn’t respond, on the other hand I sent its contents to the President, PM and other relevant Federal Ministers, Chairman Senate and Chief of Army Staff for their kind perusal.

The government should, in first instance, disclose its real intent and make a policy statement on the floor of the House about its planned electoral reforms to allow the members to have a full-fledged debate before bringing in any legislation.

Unfortunately, the Opposition has no confidence and faith in the government as well as the speaker, on the contrary, I am of the opinion that the Opposition should reconsider its stance in the larger interest of the nation and come forward for legislation on Electoral Reforms. This is a serious issue, and one that results in the restoration of trust in the electoral process.

Though the Opposition concerns are valid to some extent, its persistent refusal to participate in the process will mean that a solution will be reached without it.

The government brought about electoral changes via Presidential Ordinance, without the Opposition’s input.

Key points of contention such as electronic voting, electoral and software manipulation and the eligibility of dual nationals to contest must be ironed out. A sincere debate on a truly free-election is in every one’s interest.

Now come on Foreign Funding case… The Foreign Funding case against the PTI has become a never ending tale.

it has been dragging on for years and after many dozens of hearings it is still nowhere near concluding.

The hearings of the case are now bogged down in minor details like the use of laptops for data uploading and whether print outs of this data should be allowed in the hearing or not.

The whole exercise appears to be dissolving into a farcical project given the unnecessary delay that doesn’t appear to be grounded in substantive reasons.

The Chief Election Commissioner, therefore, needs to rap the Scrutiny Committee on the knuckles for its unjustifiable tardiness.

The nation has a right to know the truth of the matter under scrutiny. The PTI should cooperate with the ECP and also deserves a decision so that the matter is settled once and for all.

It’s the duty of Akbar S Babar to support the Scrutiny Committee and avoid raising unnecessary questions.

Akbar S Babar, the petitioner against the PTI, has requested the ECP that all the original documents be presented to financial analysts for review. It’s my considered opinion that time is not far when shocking revelations will come to light.

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