Political dialogue urged for electoral reforms

KARACHI: The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) on Monday urged all the political parties to immediately initiate a dialogue on wide-ranging electoral reforms for transparent and accountable election system to improve the quality of future elections in the country.

Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club, Member of Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA) Board of Trustee Sarwar Bari said that it was alarming that the representation of women in 171 constituencies out of more than 250 constituencies in Karachi during last election was lower than before.

Bari said that proper delimitation should be ensured in all constituencies before next election to ensure equal suffrage.

“One of the biggest challenges being faced was to control deputy returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs). A proper standard should be set for their appointment,” he said.

He also said that a new model for election needed to be concocted keeping in view the situation we face. The laws could be adopted from British and Indian electoral models in this regard.

Based on its observation of general and by-elections between 2007 and 2013, FAFEN recommended an exhaustive electoral reforms package that included proposals for constitutional, legislative, procedural and administrative reforms.

The electoral reforms agenda can best be taken by a joint parliamentary committee that ensures representation of all parties. The same committee can be institutionalized in the parliamentary rules as a permanent body with a mandate to engage with the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP) in meeting its legal, financial and organizational requirements to ensure quality elections.

It also demanded that as a preliminary step, the fragmented election laws governing various aspects and types of elections must be unified to ensure transparency and public access. The measure would also help remove any duplication, inconsistency and conflict within the existing fragmented election-related legislations.

Bari further said that the commission should be allowed representation from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). Additionally, two female members be also appointed by the parliament through the same process as adopted for the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner. There has been no representation from FATA, ICT and females yet.

He also said that ECP was also contacted regarding the proposed electrical reforms while consultation with political parties was under way.

Chairman TDEA Board of Trustee Zaheer Khattak, members TDEA Board of Trustee Sadiqa Salahuddin and Musarrat Tareen were also present.

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