The Free and Fair Election Network’s (Fafen) call to the parliament to make electoral reforms surrounding the issue of uncontrolled and unaccounted-for funding of electoral campaigns needs to be seriously considered by both the upper and lower houses.

In the current Elections Act 2017, there is no clear definition of what constitutes electoral funding. The issues with this are endless. For instance, are rallies to drum up support looked at for their funding sources? Where does the money for the constant power shows come from? Similarly, there is no clarity on how much money is being spent on the day of elections, and where this comes from.

Currently, all major political parties benefit from this lack of oversight. All of them have financial heavyweights both within and outside the party that provide money, with the public at large having no understanding of what is expected in return. In case they are active political workers, this could result in an important position being granted. If these backers are outside the party, could this then imply that political parties have to grant favours to big businesses or stakeholders which might end up disadvantageous to other related actors?

To be clear, funding and the process of give and take and political funding is a crucial part of politics the world over; this is not to imply that any major political actor is engaging in any wrongdoing. However, there has to be some modicum of control and transparency in this process, as these political parties then form governments that have the future of Pakistan at stake.

Electoral funding is an important issue that requires discussion and debate among political actors. But there is no doubt that we need tighter regulation around the issue and the best place to start this discussion is in the parliament.