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Old Saturday, July 01, 2017
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Default ECP Reforms

My commentary published in the Dawn on Friday, dated 30th June, 2017"

Whenever the elections draw near, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) becomes the focus of attention.

To bring sustainable reforms in ECP functions an electoral reforms committee was constituted under the chairmanship of Ishaq Dar, which, after countless meetings and feedback from different stakeholders, including political parties, forwarded its recommendations to parliament, which still has to pass it.

Electoral reforms, including the right to vote for overseas voters, the use of electronic voting machines, election expenses by political parties, and punishment for non-adherence to the code of conduct by candidates are included in the draft bill. Most importantly, more independence and autonomy for the ECP has been demanded in the recommendations.

The ECP is already an independent body whose constitutional mandate is to conduct free and fair elections. It has vast powers enshrined in the constitution. The Supreme Court in the Workers’ Party case elaborately defined the ECP powers in performing its duties, including the power of preemptively acting against any pre-poll rigging.

I wonder how the ECP will turn into an active body after the proposed bill is passed when it already has huge powers to act against those violating the rules of the game.

Sahito Zaheer
District Election Commissioner
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