LAHORE - Speakers at a seminar on Imperatives for Credible Electoral Process were of the unanimous view that if the 2018 election is delayed, it would harm Pakistan. They said this time most reliable election could be held. However, they hinted that dangers are also there which called for compatible measures to avert them.

The seminar was organised by PINA in collaboration with Punjab University Center for South Asian Studies & Pakistan Studies Center. Justice (R) Faqir Muhammad Khokhar presided over the seminar while former minister SM Zafar was the chief guest.  Others who spoke included PILDAT’s president Ahmad Bilal Mahboob, Dr Prof Ambareen Javed, Prof. Dr. Shafiq Jalandhary, Sajjad Mir, Dr Aman Ullah Malik, Dr Hussain Ahmad Piracha, Qayyum Nizami, Ehsan Wyne, Muhammad Mehdi, Advocate Zaheer Ahmad Mir & Prof Dr Saad Siddiqi.

Ahmad Bilal Mahboob president PILDAT, reviewing past 10 General Elections, said that 2018 elections has the potential of turning into the most credible ever exercise. The Electoral Act 2017 is the testimony of rendering electoral laws better, he added .

Prof Dr Amanullah said:  “We should play our role with honesty to make the electoral process a credible phenomenon. He said it is the practice of viable nations to learn from the mistakes of the past and to strike change in this circumstances.”

Dr Shafiq Jallandhri paid tributes to the armed forces that by their unprecedented sacrifices.

Political leader Ehsan Wyne lamented that one of the political parties is being singled out for targeting it. This, he opined, obscures hope for transparent elections.

He said that decisions of Judiciary and NAB are influencing electoral process. Political parties are expressing that democracy is being subjected to adulteration, which the consciences people would not accept. Political Analyst Qayyum Nizami said that it would be more worthwhile to make reliable electoral system rather than electoral process. Brig. (R) Riaz Ahmad Toor said it may lead to complications if army personnel are put inside the polling station. Mr Muhammad Mehdi urged that transparent elections are sine quo non for our life and stability. Our elections are under the focus of the world. If the elections are disrupted, we may have to face great ordeals, he cautioned.

Advocate Zaheer Ahmad Mir said that it was the primary responsibility of ECP to arrange training of correct manner of exercising the right of vote. This training can be extended to all voters through the modern technology.

Prof Dr Saad Siddiqi said that the exercise of voting right in a responsible manner is a national as well as religious obligation.

SM Zafar said that the very conduct of election on time will be reckoned as victory for democracy and defeat of dictatorial mentality. This calls for that the political parties must, despite some impediments they experience, move forward. Boycott of elections, in the opinion of the jurist, would be very dangerous.

He suggested the ECP to arrange all parties conference to prepare a code of conduct with mutual consensus. The code should provide to desist igniting hatred and violence. He said that Supreme Court has made a putting off the hearing of Ahsan Iqbal’s case after Election. The same policy should be adopted by NAB and other institutions. He objected to allot the symbol of Jeep to independent candidates. This policy, the demanded vehemently, be dismissed forthwith. He said the elections would not be reckoned credible by the announcements of ECP or foreign electoral observers. The veracity to elections being credible would come from the people.

Justice (R) Faqir Muhammad Khokhar said in his presidential address that 2018 election have great significance in our national life. I see that the present arrangements for elections far better than previous experiences. He expressed with optimism that there are scant possibility to experience rigging on the polling day.

He expressed that on the occasion of 2013 elections, General Kiyani cautioned the high brass of intelligence agencies that if any was found to indulge in elections, he would be dealt with severally. He said 1970 witnessed rigging of unprecedented dimensions when the Awami League occupied polling stations forcibly. He recalled that on the eve of 1977 elections, Mr. Bhutto wanted to prove that he was elected unopposed. For this, he abducted his opponent. The suit was followed by the CMs of other provinces. This led to conflicting atmosphere. He emphasized that holding of 2018 elections in transparent way was vital. If any movement this time started, the possibility of martial law cannot be ignored. However, in his opinion, the army would not interfere in the elections. He suggested that ECP should call a meeting of Chief Secretaries & IGs to urge upon them that any lapse in the security of candidates would not be tolerated. He said that the present level of the people’s vigilance defeats the designs of adulterating democracy.

PINA Secretary General Mr. Altaf Hasan Qureshee said that we should put up suggestions to made the electoral process more reliable and credible, so that sustainability of democracy continues, and the impression of the people’s rule is engraved deeper.

Prof Shabbir Ahmad Khan conducted the proceedings