PTI unveils 10-point electoral reforms proposals

| Seeks change in criterion for appointment of caretaker set-ups, ECP members

ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday unveiled its 10-point electoral reforms proposals that included change in criteria for the appointment of caretaker set ups and the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

At the same time, the PTI has proposed to do away with the provision of reporting all donations above 0.1 million rupees to the ECP along with names and identity card numbers of donors claiming that a number of donors do not want to identified.

The PTI is already facing a case of misappropriations in party funds before the ECP.

The PTI claims that the change in the criteria of appointment of caretaker setup and the members of the ECP would bring more transparency in the holding of free, fair and transparent elections.

The PTI’s lawmakers including MNA Dr Shireen Mazari as well as Shafqat Mahmood and Senator Shibli Faraz submitted the proposals before the sub-committee of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms that held its meeting here on Tuesday under the chair of Law Minister Zahid Hamid.

Among its proposals, the PTI has asked to change the procedure of appointment of caretaker governments at federal and provincial levels from consultations of Leader of House and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly as well as respective provincial assemblies to a parliamentary committee.

The committee shall consist of all political parties, having 50 per cent each of the members from the treasury and the opposition as per their parliamentary strength and it would decide the caretaker set-ups.

Similarly, the procedure for the appointment of the members of the ECP should be through a parliamentary committee having similar composition.

A constitutional amendment would be needed to change the procedure of appointment of caretaker set-ups and the members of the ECP including the chief election commissioner.

Similarly, the ECP itself should appoint secretary ECP and not the government, it has been proposed.

It has been proposed that the ECP itself should determine the allocations and spending of its one-line budget.

 The proposals ask for autonomous, strong, financially and administratively independent and transparently appointed ECP.

The sub-committee has been tasked to finalise a final report to introduce electoral reforms in the country to do away with allegations of rigging in the elections.

In order to give the ECP the recognised legitimacy, the party proposed that it is imperative that the next general elections should be conducted by a reconstituted ECP under the new rules.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid, while briefing the reporters after the meeting said that most of the PTI’s proposals related to procedural amendments and would be discussed in the sub-committee.

He added that those proposals related to constitutional amendment such as bringing changes in procedure of formation of caretaker set-ups would be forwarded to the main parliamentary committee.

The PTI has proposed that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) should be used in the election process that “is the real answer to avoid stuffing of ballot papers and other malpractices that take place at polling stations”.

The PTI insisted that biometric verification of all votes must take place before a ballot paper is issued at every polling station.

The proposals seek giving right to vote overseas Pakistanis.

The party suggested that the present system of Party Lists for election on the NA reserved seats should be extended to the Senate elections too.

The PTI suggested that returning officers (ROs) should also be taken from all services including from defence forces and that the ROs appointed should be of good repute and should not be of less than Grade-19.

It proposed that the army should be deployed inside and outside all polling stations and the army should also accompany the presiding officers in transporting polling bags from polling stations to ROs’ offices and be present inside the RO office till completion of the result.

The PTI viewed that voter lists should be provided 60 days before the Election Day and 30 days should be given for raising objections.

About the code of conduct, the PTI suggested that political gatherings, car rallies etc and use of loudspeakers are integral part of the election campaign and should be allowed, adding that only public office holders such as the prime minister, the chief ministers, ministers, mayors and others should be barred from campaigning in general elections or in the by-elections.

The PTI proposed that the provision of ECP’s powers to disqualify a candidate on second complaint of RO regarding code of conduct violation should be done away with and this provision will be open to abuse and result in disruption of the electoral process.

However, it proposed that there should be no bar on MNAs/ MPAs, who do not hold any public office and especially those who are in opposition, to campaign for their candidates.

The party proposed that no fresh projects/schemes should be initiated or announced by local governments after announcement of date of general elections till holding of the polls.

 The party also proposed that recount must be made mandatory on request of runner-up candidate in any constituency, besides suggesting installation of CCTV cameras inside polling stations.

The law minister in his briefing to the reporters said that committee disposed of 255 proposals and the decision on remaining 230 would be made in the coming two days.

“We want to submit a complete consensus report to the main committee,” he added.


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