PTI role in electoral reforms

Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms has finalised Election Bill 2017. PTI, which walked out of the meeting of Committee citing some reservations, has made four demands to ensure holding of free, fair and transparent elections. As per announcement of party chief Imran Khan, these include introduction of bio-metric system, grant of right of vote to Overseas Pakistanis, appointment of caretaker set-up in consultation with all political parties and above all formation of a new Election Commission.
PTI is fully entitled to make any demand especially when a process is underway for carrying out far-reaching reforms in the electoral system to make it acceptable to people of Pakistan. However, one might point out that the party sat idle during the last two years when the Committee held numerous sessions to discuss almost all the issues that the PTI is now agitating. The party attended some meetings of the main committee as well as the sub-committee and contributed its share but it was because of its virtual boycott of the process that introduction of constitutional and legal reforms vis-à-vis elections has considerably been delayed. The Parliamentary Committee has done well by holding its meeting following writing of a letter by the ECP to expedite adoption of the recommendation and provision of necessary constitutional and legislative cover to the proposals. There are reasons to believe that the four demands made by PTI would trigger controversy and as a consequence adoption of the Election Bill 2017, which combines nine different laws on elections, would be delayed further and it might not be possible to introduce new reforms and implement them during the next elections. The demand about introduction of bio-metric system is perfectly right as it would eliminate chances of bogus voting and there should be no hesitation if there are no technical hiccups or excessive cost factor involved. Similarly, Overseas Pakistanis should get right of vote if it is possible to make satisfactory arrangements for conduct of polling in the host countries. But the two other demands are illogical and uncalled for as ECP members have constitutional tenure and they are appointed following a due process of law. We need to learn to respect institutions and must not make national institutions controversial. There is also a workable proposal for appointment of the caretaker set-up and involvement of all parties would mean no consensus and more controversies.

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