ISLAMABAD - Although most of the parliamentarians including those belonging to PTI consider the electoral reforms committee of the parliament, which is yet to hold its maiden meeting, a valid and strong forum to bring about reforms in electoral system which, according to them, is full of loopholes, yet Imran Khan’s ultimatum and his announcement of million march in case of non-acceptance of his demands have raised some questions about the efficacy of the committee.
“It is unfortunate that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is showing distrust in Parliament and opting for other options to get its demands met,” State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad said while commenting on the demands put forth by Khan and threat of agitation and a million march on the federal capital in case of non-acceptance of his demands.
On the other hand, PTI MNA Dr Arif Alvi shrugged away the impression of disbelief in the parliament and said that they would play their role in the electoral reforms committee of the parliament as they considered it a constitutional forum to bring about reforms in the infructuous electoral system in vogue. He informed that PTI has nominated their members in the committee and he along with Dr Shireen Mazari and Shafqat Mahmood would be part of the 33-member committee constituted in this connection.
Sources in the government informed that the committee would likely have its inaugural session on July 2 when the National Assembly would be meeting for a day or two, primarily to pass the Protection of Pakistan (Amended) Bill.
The parliamentary parties heads in a meeting with Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq a few days back had discussed the composition of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms wherein the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) would have the lion’s share of seven slots, PPP, four, MQM and PTI, three each, JUI-F, two, while rest of the smaller parties would have one member each in the 33-member body. Even the parties, which have either representation in Senate or National Assembly, would also be made part of the body to widen the representation.
Parliamentary sources informed that in the inaugural session, which would likely be held on July 2, the committee would draw its rules to function and also elect its chairman. Initially, it was decided that the committee would work on daily basis and would complete its task of coming up with recommendations for bringing reforms in the electoral system within three months period.
As per the letter written by Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif to Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, he suggested to incorporate the work already done by the parliament in this connection and hoped that the committee would give it due consideration.
The subcommittee of National Assembly on law, justice and parliamentary affairs had furnished a report to the parliament in 2011 suggesting a number of amendments in the electoral laws while the report of the Senate special committee on elections issues presented in the upper house in 2013 had also given some valuable suggestions to bring improvement in the prevalent electoral system in the country.
On the other hand, majority of parliamentarians grilled Imran Khan for beating about the bush and what they dubbed his inept way of handling the things. They hoped that he should learn the lesson of getting the things done on the platform of the parliament instead of resorting to agitation and using street power to resolve the constitutional matters.
Political analysts said that becoming part of the electoral reforms committee and at the same time threatening government with million march on the federal capital to get some of their demands about rigging in the last general elections seemed contradictory as one could not run with the hare and hunt with the hound at the same time.
But Dr Arif Alvi said that they have full faith in the parliament but as the rulers are not paying any heed to their genuine demands, they have to resort to other option to get the things rectified. He was categorical in saying when the past mistakes are not corrected how one could expect things would improve for better in future, so according to him, the follies of the past must be pointed out and rectified before looking towards future.
On the other hand, the critics of PTI said that as Imran Khan had failed to deliver in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and match with the rapid economic development being carried out by the PML-N government both in centre and Punjab, the largest province, so he was using unconstitutional means to dislodge the government because he was no match to PML-N vis-à-vis development agenda.
Actually PTI was frightened from the rapid economic development by the ruling PML-N and in the face of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s economic agenda they saw no political future through electoral politics and that was the reason they were opting the unconstitutional means, Sh Aftab said.
The electoral reforms committee of the parliament would be starting its work in a next few days amid the atmosphere of mistrust and it would be difficult to say something with certainty about its success to getting the anomalies in the prevalent electoral system removed, a senior politician who is also member of the committee commented.