Top ECP official on a secret visit to India

ISLAMABAD - Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has secretly left for India a week after banning media persons from entering the premises of the election conducting body.Well-placed sources in the ECP told The Nation that secretary Babar Fateh Yaqoob left for India on January 22 and will return on January 29. However, nobody in the election commission has any knowledge about the agenda of his visit.The visit has been kept so confidential that only a few officials in the ECP know about the tour and lack the information regarding the purpose of the development. One official said the visit was aimed at learning from the Indian model of electoral laws.

Since the entry of journalists has been banned to the ECP by Mr Yaqoob, Additional Director PR Iftikhar Raja, when contacted, confirmed that the secretary had left for India; however, he too happened to be unaware about the agenda of the visit. “He (Babar Yaqoob) has not shared the purpose of his India visit. What I know is that he has left for India on official visit,” said Raja who is BPS-20 officer in the ECP when asked.

However, officials who spoke to this scribe on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the matter, said that the secretary had left for New Delhi to meet top officials of Indian Election Commission so that some of the ‘good’ laws of the neighbouring country could be infused into the existing laws of the ECP.The visit of the secretary comes at a time when the sub-committee of the electoral reforms body despite meeting for 46th time has not reached any consensus on reforming the electoral laws in country.

Sources said the ECP had long wished to adopt Indian model of electoral laws for conducting general elections in the country as the laws of the neighbouring country could benefit Pakistan in concluding the exercise.They said the visit of the secretary had been shrouded in mystery and might not augur well with some political parties that will oppose the idea as it will be copied from India.However, another official said there was nothing wrong in following rules and good experience of others if it was benefiting electoral procedures in Pakistan.

He said that recently a delegation from Nepal had visited the ECP and was impressed with the rules and methodology followed by Pakistan’s election commission. “Even if we pick up some good experiences from Indian electoral laws, the political parties should endorse the move as it will be helpful for voters and contesting political parties,” he said.

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