MPs body on 2018 polls to meet again this week

Impasse on terms of reference

ISLAMABAD - Parliamentary Committee on Elections 2018 will be meeting again this week to break impasse on terms of reference (ToR) to move forward on probe into the alleged rigging in the general elections 2018.

So far the government and opposition parties have failed to reach consensus on terms of reference for the parliamentary panel and the sub-committee formed under the head of Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood reviewed the terms of reference presented by government and opposition but could not evolve consensus on ToRs and later decided to place the matter before the main committee to decide.

Pakistan People’s Party Senator Rehman Malik dispelled the impression of any deadlock between the government and opposition sides and said that first of all the members of the committee are required to frame the rules and draw the outlines of the committee’s modus operandi and once these are finalised, the committee would initiate work on the alleged rigging in the last general elections.

He informed that the committee would be meeting on Thursday (Jan.31) and he would be giving his input once he gets the draft of the terms of reference.

Senator Malik said that the Senate Committee had already prepared a comprehensive report on the conduct of last general elections and explicitly pointed out the lacunae and shortcoming in it.

The parliamentary committee comprising 15 members each from the government and opposition benches was formed in October in the face of demand from almost all the opposition parties who had raised serious reservations over the transparency of July 2018 general elections.

The government was quick on accepting the demand but side by side some senior ruling party leaders and members of Federal Cabinet had questioned the very formation of the committee and termed it repugnant to the Article 225 of the constitution under which the electoral disputes could only taken to the elections tribunals.

On the issue of the committee coming in conflict to Article 225 of the Constitution, Shafqat Mahmood, who also headed sub-committee to devise ToRs, informed that the Chairman of the committee Pervaiz Khattak had sent a reference to Speaker National Assembly seeking his ruling on the matter but he had returned the matter back to the committee to decide on its own on the matter.

Some other members of the 30-member committee were pessimistic about the committee and said that the committee would only put the matter in limbo and it would not come up something substantial and workable on the issue of alleged rigging in the elections.

Moulana Abdul Wasay representing MMA in the committee said that he had told the inaugural meeting of the committee that it was not the appropriate forum for it and that was the reason he had decided not to join its proceedings in future.

On the other hand, some PML-N members of the committee blamed treasury members of the committee for adopting delaying tactics and even questioned the doling out of the slot of chairman to PTI, the main beneficiary of the alleged rigging.

They said that actually they wanted to see removal of technical and procedural flaws in the elections mechanism like Result Transfer System (RTS) and Result Management System (RMS) failure on the elections day and complaints about the late provision of Form 45 (official result) to the polling agents by the Returning Officers.

Sources in the ruling PTI said that they were sincerely trying to attend to the concerns raised by the opposition parties on the conduct of elections and they had also objections on certain things and wanted to see the mechanism of holding elections spruced up, but at the same time they have to do all this remaining within the certain statutory and constitutional limits.


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