- Demand complete independence and autonomy of ECP in line with Constitution and SC judgements
- Recommend proportionate representation system, direct elections to Senate and reserved seats
ISLAMABAD, January 26, 2017: Leaders of 15 political parties have expressed serious reservations over the Draft Elections Bill, 2017 and urged the government to initiate structured engagement with important political parties to improve the draft that can reflect the will of the people.
These political leaders agreed that the Draft Elections Bill, 2017 needed further improvement as it did not capture the spirit of Article 218 (3) of the Constitution that ensured autonomy and independence of the Election Commission and the landmark verdict of Supreme Court (SC) in Workers Party Case in 2012.
The leaders opined that any law that did not guarantee complete independence and unbridled autonomy could not ensure conduct of free, fair, honest and just elections as required by the Constitution.
The law in current form only protects the interests of political actors who want to perpetuate the status quo, the participants agreed and unanimously recommended to Parliament to introduce proportionate representation system, direct elections to Senate as well as on reserved seats for women and non-Muslims as part of ongoing electoral reforms process.
The leaders of political parties who are not represented in Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms gathered in Islamabad and discussed the Draft Elections Bill, 2017 to furnish their recommendations.
The meeting was facilitated by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) as part of its ongoing efforts to advocate for improvement in draft legislation. The participants endorsed FAFEN’s recommendations for further improvement in draft bill.
Participants had also a consensus view on need for introducing effective and practical checks on the use of money in elections and need for urgency to boost voter registration of women and other marginalized groups especially in remote areas of Balochistan, FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and urban Sindh.
The participants also showed concern on the procedure of selection of the Commission members and caretaker setup. The leaders advocated for making public the minutes of the meetings between Leader of the House and Leader of the Opposition on appointment of Commission members and caretaker setup. They emphasized that bipartisan approach should not be used to protect the status quo.
The participants also expressed views on census and delimitation of constituencies. Parties from Balochistan showed their concerns over displacement of population in the province due to insurgency and voiced for the early return of people to their native lands.
Dr. Abdul Hayee Baloch, President Balochistan National Movement, Dr. Jahanzeb Jamaldini, Senator Balochistan National Party Mengal, Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, General Secretary Pakistan Awami Tehreek, Syed Yousaf Shah, Spokesperson Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami, Dr. Safdar Ali Abbasi, President Pakistan People’s Party Workers, Farooq Tariq, Spokesperson of Awami Workers Party, Syed Hafeezuddin of Pak Sarzameen Party, Adnan Haider Randhawa, Chairman Aam Admi Party of Pakistan, Bostan Ali from Hazara Democratic Party, Mian Qayoom, Chairman Labour Qaumi Movement, Nasir Sherazi, Secretary Political Affairs Majlis-e-Wahdatul-Muslimeen, Peer Jamil Nasir Hashmi, Senior Vice President Jamiat Ulema Pakistan Noorani, Rashid Ali Daudpota, Media Secretary Awami Tehreek (Sindh), Shahzeb Dhareja from Saraikistan Democratic Party and Lateef Ansari from Sanjh Tehreek attended the meeting.