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Old Tuesday, August 15, 2017
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Default Electoral Reforms

Electoral Reforms published in the Dawn in 2nd August, 2017

This is with reference to your editorial ‘Electoral reforms’ (July 21), appreciating the finalisation of the electoral reforms bill by the parliamentary committee that is soon expected to be enacted.

There is no denying that the country needs qualitative electoral reforms so that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) can conduct polls that no one dare allege are rigged. However, there is a need to comprehensively understand the relationship between the political system, ground realities and general psyche before framing any laws.

Take the following example, which a professor who was appointed to monitor election finances and campaigns in Khairpur district during the 2013 general election told me about. According to him, during the 2008 general election, a constable in Hala prevented a prominent male politician from entering a women’s poll booth. For his service, the constable was kidnapped, horrifically maimed and left in the wilderness to die. I could see the fear in the professor’s eyes.
The truth is that we live in a flawed system, with the weak having almost no protection.

How can anyone expect the thousands of temporary staff that the ECP appoints during elections to be honest and neutral if the commission cannot protect a constable from a powerful, influential person? This is the question the professor asked for which I have no answer.

Zaheer Sahito
District Election Commissioner
Kashmore Sindh
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