Govt-ECP deadlock on amendments persists
11 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The deadlock between the government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) persisted on the amendments in the nomination papers proposed by the ECP.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will wait for the president's decision on its proposed nomination form till Monday afternoon following which it will order printing of the same old forms by the evening.
When The News (a local newspaper) contacted the Presidential spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar on Sunday night he said the law minister was dealing with this matter and that he was not aware whether or not it had been forwarded to the president and if yes what its status is now.
It is learnt that the president is faced with a tricky situation with regard to the option of out-right rejecting the document prepared by the Election Commission and the one which carried strong reservations of the ministry of law and parliamentary affairs.
The Election Commission had declined to accommodate the law ministry's proposals and suggestions in its document and proposed sending its own and the ministry's draft separately to the president.
"Though the government has shown its intentions by torpedoing our amendments proposed in the light of the Constitution and the Supreme Court decision, we still expect a positive development from the President House," said a senior ECP official when The News (a local newspaper) approached him for his comment on the matter.
He said that the Election Commission worked hard and prepared a set of nomination forms that was to work as a 'filter', not allowing 'dirty elements' to even appear in the list of final candidates but it appeared the government and the opposition deliberately stymied the effort.
"Why are the opposition parties, including the PML-N, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Jamaat-e-Islami and Awami National Party silent on this issue? They must expose the government-opposition nexus to the masses," the official maintained. He complained their silence at this stage was unfortunate and worrying for the Election Commission.
About any other possible option to bar the tax evaders, bank loan defaulters, those who got their loan written off, or those were involved in any kind of criminal activity, from clearing the stage of nomination papers, the official noted that they would now concentrate more on their online central automated system (OCAS).
He said on the one hand they were disappointed by the negative approach of the government and the opposition on the new nomination forms and, on the other, it was heartening to note that these political forces were being exposed by their own actions.
"It goes without saying that what we have proposed will ensure a great deal of justness, fairness and transparency while the reservations of the ministry will actually encourage malpractices and crooks to enter the legislatures again," he noted.
He said the government was not interested in electoral reforms that included simple things such as re-polling in case the winning candidate got less than 50 percent votes and if at a polling station woman voters' turn-out was less than 10 per cent. "Suppose there are 0.4 million registered voters in a constituency and the returned candidate takes 10 or 20 per cent of the total voters, how can he be the representative of the entire constituency," he wondered.
During his recent visit to the Election Commission, law minister Farooq H Naek had told the media persons that it was quite unlikely the electoral reforms would be adopted by parliament, as very few days were left for the completion of the National Assembly's term.
The ECP official noted the Election Commission was also unhappy over the government's lack of interest to give legislative cover to the code of conduct and noted that after the issuance of its directives against ads a few days back, ads had started appearing again in the print and electronic media.
"How can we take action against such violations, when there are no powers vested with the Election Commission and when the concerning agencies are not cooperating with it," he asked.
It is learnt at least 0.1 million nomination forms would be printed within two to three days for distribution among the four provinces through the provincial election commissions to the district returning officers.