LAHORE – The interim government, to be installed after the incumbent National Assembly completes its constitutional term on March 16, will have the power to approve changes in the nomination papers of the election contestants, which the treasury as well as opposition lawmakers of the outgoing legislature are reluctant to endorse, a senior retired official of the Election Commission of Pakistan says.
In his opinion the Supreme Court of Pakistan could also take suo motu notice of the matter and order the relevant authorities to incorporate in the nomination papers the changes proposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Law Minister Farooq H Naek has rejected almost all proposals given by the ECP, saying they were unnecessary.
However, a couple of members of the poll body have been quoted as saying that in the absence of those changes free and fair polls could not be guaranteed. They think that if the nomination papers did not contain the information the contests have been proposed to furnish, loan defaulters, tax-dodgers and criminals would reach the assemblies once again.
Kanwar Dilshad said the law and parliament affairs ministry was not empowered to reject the reforms proposed by the ECP. In his opinion the ministry’s role was no more than that of a post office – and it was supposed to forward to the prime minister the package sent to it by the poll body. The premier, he said, was under obligation to forward the same to the president for his signature.
The former ECP secretary said the caretaker government was competent to do the needful. He dismissed the suggestion that if the matter was left to the caretakers the elections would get delayed.
All nomination papers could be printed in a single day and there was no question of any delay in case the amended nomination papers are introduced, he said.
He said this was also the time for the apex court to ‘rescue’ the Election Commission. He said if the Supreme Court could take suo motu notice of other important issues, it should also take notice of this matter which would decide the kind of people to be elected in the elections.