La­cu­nae in 22nd Amend­ment

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Mo­ham­mad Jamil Email: mjamil1938@hot­mail.com

the con­sen­sus of the con­sen­sus of the Prime Min­is­ter and Leader of the Op­po­si­tion. If the Prime Min­is­ter and the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion fail to agree over a can­di­date, they could dis­patch their rec­om­men­da­tions sep­a­rately to the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee, which would have the fi­nal say in the mat­ter. Each prov­ince would have one mem­ber in the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion. Two mem­bers of the ECP will stand re­tired af­ter two and a half years, while the other two would re­tire af­ter the next two and a half years.

In ad­di­tion to re­tired judge of Supreme Court and high court, re­tired se­nior bu­reau­crats or se­nior civil ser­vants of grade 22 would be el­i­gi­ble for ap­point­ment as CEC. In case of va­ca­tion of CEC, the se­nior most mem­ber will as­sume du­ties as CEC, whereas pre­vi­ously the CJP used to ap­point the CEC in such a case. Un­for­tu­nately, in the pre­vi­ous assem­blies those with dual na­tion­al­i­ties had graced vain­glo­ri­ously its gov­ern­men­tal quar­ters and leg­isla­tive halls. The tax-evaders re­mained in the cor­ri­dors of power. Yet they had the gump­tion to pa­rade them­selves as the paragons of virtues and role mod­els, which they were not. Their de­cep­tive masks have now started com­ing apart. In view of in­abil­ity of the ECP to dis­charge its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties ef­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively, there was a ques­tion mark on it, and also on the good name of for­mer Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner Fakharud­din G. Ibrahim.

There has been a pub­lic de­bate on the need to make the ECP truly in­de­pen­dent en­abling it to hold elec­tions in fair and trans­par­ent man­ner, but iron­i­cally the mo­dus operandi sug­gested by the 22nd Amend­ment for the pur­pose is re­flec­tive of lack of broader vi­sion as the re­forms cen­tred only on the cri­te­ria and pro­ce­dure for ap­point­ment of CEC and Mem­bers of the Com­mis­sion. Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner should have been a judge of the Supreme Court or qual­i­fied to be­come a judge of the apex court and this would have added pres­tige and re­spect to the of­fice of the CEC and the Com­mis­sion it­self. By adding the pro­viso that he could be a se­nior bu­reau­crat or tech­no­crat, now it is pre1973 po­si­tion when CECs were re­quired to be taken from the civil ser­vice. But this will not pro­duce the de­sired re­sults and lead to more con­tro­ver­sies in the next elec­tions.

Most com­men­triat and an­a­lysts hold the opin­ion that there is need is a need for fi­nan­cially and ad­min­is­tra­tively in­de­pen­dent Elec­tion Com­mis­sion like the one in In­dia to en­sure gen­uinely fair elec­tions. There was de­mand from the en­tire na­tion that the ECP should per­form its con­sti­tu­tional role with­out fear or fa­vor, and fil­ter out all those who pre­sented fake de­grees, held dual na­tion­al­ity, evaded tax, de­faulted on loans or in­dulged in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties. It had the back­ing of the ju­di­ciary, the mil­i­tary and over and above all the peo­ple of Pak­istan. But the ECP ar­guably failed on ev­ery count. Since the mem­bers of the ECP were nom­i­nated by the out­go­ing gov­ern­ment and the op­po­si­tion, their nom­i­nees were look­ing af­ter their in­ter­est. In Pak­istan, dy­nas­tic po­lit­i­cal par­ties and cor­rupt politi­cians that did not come up to Ar­ti­cles 62 and 63and mem­bers with bo­gus ed­u­ca­tional de­grees had thronged its leg­is­la­tures.

In Jan­uary 2015, In­quiry Com­mis­sion Judge Ma­lik Ghu­lam Hus­sain Awan had pre­sented re­port to the Elec­tion Tri­bunal (ET) on al­leged poll­srig­ging in NA-122. The judge while record­ing state­ment before ET on the oc­ca­sion of fil­ing of in­quiry re­port said, that “no clear ev­i­dence on rig­ging in this con­stituency has come to fore.” In the same breath, he ad­mit­ted that “tremen­dous amount of neg­li­gence and slack­ness was demon­strated dur­ing polling in NA-122. As per law, it is manda­tory that back side of bal­lot pa­pers and coun­ter­foils should bear stamp and sig­na­tures of polling staff but they lacked it”. He added that 30132 coun­ter­foils did not bear stamp and sig­na­tures of the polling staff. Coun­sels for Na­tional As­sem­bly (NA) speaker Ayyaz Sadiq and Im­ran cross-qes­tioned on the state­ment of IC judge Ma­lik Ghu­lam Hus­sain. Coun­sels for NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq asked from IC judge as to the scale of rig­ging NA-122.

Judge said he has recorded state­ment that rig­ging has not been seen but neg­li­gence and mal­prac­tices of the staff have been seen which have been iden­ti­fied in re­port. Coun­sel for Im­ran Khan asked the IC judge dur­ing the course of cross ques­tion­ing how the bal­lot pa­pers had dif­fer­ent col­ors. The idea of elec­toral re­forms had caught the fancy of both gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion par­ties, whereas peo­ple were least both­ered, as there was noth­ing in such scheme of things for them. As a mat­ter of fact, it has noth­ing to do with the mass of the peo­ple, but an ar­range­ment be­tween the oli­garchs to reach agree­ments on mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able stan­dards for their greater mu­tual sat­is­fac­tion. A com­mit­tee had been formed com­pris­ing op­po­si­tion and rul­ing par­ties’ mem­bers to pre­pare frame­work for elec­toral re­forms but no noteworthy progress has been no­ticed. —The writer is a se­nior jour­nal­ist based in La­hore.

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