ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif has asked the Speaker National Assembly to constitute a parliamentary committee having representation from treasury and opposition benches from both the houses of the parliament to come up with recommendations for electoral reforms aimed at ensuring free, fair and transparent elections in the country.
In a letter addressed to Speaker NA Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Premier Sharif suggested that he should also take the input of the chairman Senate in the matter and place the proposal of forming the parliamentary body before the parliament for getting its affirmative nod.
Referring to his meeting with Federal Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, Premier Sharif said that he came to know that in past both the houses had done a considerable work on electoral reforms in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and proposed that the valuable work done by the MPs should also placed before the proposed parliamentary committee while the committee could also take into consideration the proposals and suggestions coming from political parties and other quarters as well.
In the past a couple of reports, including the report of sub-committee of National Assembly standing committee on law, justice and parliamentary affairs relating to amendments in electoral laws and report of Senate special committee on election issues contained quite valuable stuff but as formal legislation could not be done on it so on completion of the term of the government these legislations stand lapsed.
The premier further proposed that the said parliamentary committee should submit its final report to the speaker NA within three months time and then both the houses would give these recommendations and proposals constitutional cover after threadbare debate.
Sources aware of the behind the scene developments informed The Nation that the move was aimed at diluting the mounting pressure being built by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf through its public rallies against, what they termed, the flawed electoral system in vogue.
The sources said that on Monday last Dar and Zahid Hamid, the legal brain of ruling Pakistan Muslim League(Nawaz), held detailed meeting with Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah and discussed with him the matter and after getting clearance from him the letter was written to the speaker NA for constitution of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms.
The sources said that in this way both the major stakeholders of the incumbent political dispensation - PML-N and PPP - would be able to pour water on the ongoing PTI campaign demanding reformation of, what they termed, faulty electoral system in the country.
Now, besides other political parties, PTI MPs would also be included in the proposed committee for electoral reforms and with their presence in the body on electoral reforms the party would lose the justification of holding public rallies across the major cities of the country for the purpose.
Following is the text of the letter written by Premier Sharif to Speaker National Assembly:
“I have been informed by Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatisation that Committee of both the National Assembly and Senate had done substantial work on electoral reforms during 2011 and 2012-13 respectively, culminating in the following reports:
1) Report of the Sub-Committee of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs relating to Amendments in Electoral Laws (October, 2011); and
2) Report of the Senate Special Committee on Election Issues (February, 2013).
I am given to understand that apart from some minor amendments made through an Act of Parliament and certain proposals adopted by the Election Commission of Pakistan through exercise of its inherent powers / administrative measures, legislation to give effect to the recommendations contained in the reports could not be enacted due to expiry of the tenure of the National Assembly.
Given the importance of the matter, the National Assembly and Senate may consider setting up a Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms to prepare comprehensive recommendations in respect of electoral reforms required to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country.
The Parliamentary Committee may comprise representatives of political parties from both the Treasury and Opposition members in both Houses.
It may consider the above reports and other proposals, recommendations, and reports submitted to it by any party, organisation or person, including suggestions to amend the constitutional provisions relating to caretaker governments and the adoption of the latest technology currently available for holding elections. The Parliamentary Committee may submit its final report to the Speaker within three months.
The above proposal may be placed before the august National Assembly in the first instance, and if the House so approves, it may authorize you to constitute the Parliamentary Committee in consultation with the Chairman Senate.”