Parliamentary committee must investigate irregularities: FAFEN

August 11, 2014 Off By Web Desk

Islamabad: The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) has called for legal empowerment of the Special Committee of the Parliament on Electoral Reforms to investigate the irregularities committed during the General Elections 2013 and recommend the cases of erring election officials to special accountability courts.

In its four-point agenda for political parties to overcome the current political impasse, FAFEN urges the political parties to adopt democratic and constitutional means to negotiate their differences and resolve the ongoing political deadlock that threatens democratic and political stability. The focus of political dialogue should remain on reforming the electoral system and must not be distracted by demands that may yield violence, instability and discontinuity of the system.

FAFEN sees with concern the calls for violence advocating tolerance and adherence to the rule of law and considers as unnecessary and condemns restrictions hindering legitimate political actors from exercising their right to protest and registering their concerns about the quality of General Elections 2013.

Against the backdrop of a series of events that has led to the current imbroglio, FAFEN recommends to all legitimate political actors to take confidence-building measures to restore political normalcy. The measures may include immediate end to distasteful statements against politicians, suspension of all politically-motivated criminal and civil cases against politicians and political workers over the past few months.

FAFEN proposes that terms of reference of parliamentary committee for electoral reforms must be expanded through a special legislation and it should be empowered to undertake independent scrutiny of GE 2013 to ensure that reforms are based on evidence, supported by empirical data and a realistic account of issues that raised questions about the credibility of 2013 and previous elections in the country.

The Network recommends that the committee should have powers to refer cases of election officials found to be involved in irregularities to special courts to be constituted for the purpose and headed by sitting judges of high courts to be appointed through consensus by the parliamentary committee.

Similarly, the committee must be empowered to redress grievances of key political parties about the current composition of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and to accomplish the task of finalizing wide-ranging electoral reforms and their subsequent enactment through an act of parliament regardless of timing of future elections.

FAFEN urges the government to immediately order the impending census and complete the exercise in the shortest possible time to realistically re-allocate political power among the federating units through delimitation of constituencies that can ensure equal suffrage among citizen.

Lastly, FAFEN proposes the convening of an All Parties Conference (APC) to finalize the dates for the local government elections as required by Article 140-A of the Constitution. The APC must agree to the legislation required to address concerns and decisions of higher courts on various aspects of provincial local government acts particularly delimitation and the role of the ECP in conducting these polls. The apex court has already ordered the conduct of these polls by November this year.

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