BAHAWALPUR-The emergence of true and sustainable democracy is linked to the independence of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which necessitates the need for amendments to the electoral system to make its decision final.

Former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad stated this while talking exclusively with The Nation.

He pointed out that the electoral system of Bangladesh should be replicated as a role model in the country.

He claimed that courts were not only influence the ECP but sometimes even ‘oppressed’ its independence. Kanwar Dilshad stressed that returning officers and presiding officers should be held liable if rigging proved in elections.

He emphasised that there should be no role of any person (Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and Ministers) who had been part of caretaker setups in the next government once elections were held, adding that any such act would spoil the credibility of elections. “The column of ‘None of above’ must be included in the ballot papers,” the former ECP stressed, adding that the current electoral system only harboured rigging.

Kanwar Dilshad urged that oversees Pakistani must be given the right to vote. He argued that rules for the registration of political parties must be revised and any party having obtained minimum of 5 percent vote should be banned for future elections.

To a question, the former ECP secretary pointed out that the electronic voting machine was the modern way for balloting but it electoral record should be maintained on paper as well.

He also termed the proposal for the use of biometric system in election viable and good.

Kanwar Dilshad revealed that the Chief Election Commissioner had lost powers after the passage of 18th Amendment. He said that the EC ended the role of judicial officer as Returning Officers in 2008, however, the Supreme Court again deployed Returning officers from the Judiciary. “Returning officers neglected Article 62-63 of the Constitution and did not act upon it during the elections,” he claimed.

He said that the electoral system of Bangladesh was the best one where voters had been provided with the opportunity not to vote any candidate if they did not satisfy with them by adding an additional blank box to the ballot paper.

“If 40 percent votes cast with the blank box, the elections in that specific area stand cancelled and all the candidates disqualified for the next five years,” he elaborated, adding that it should be necessary for every candidate to open a separate bank account for electoral expenses and in this way submit all of their expenses to the Election Commission.

Kanwar Dilshad informed that such a provision existed in the law but no one bothered getting it implemented.

He reiterated that the ECP must be independent and no court should interfere in its affairs as happened in 2013 when CJP Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmad addressed the returning officers and wrote letters to them, adding that the ex-CJP should not have done so.

The former ECP secretary cited the example of India, saying that in the neighbouring when the Election Commission issued electoral schedule then no court could interfere, adding that however, if any problem cropped up then the EC itself dealt with that.

To a question about new provinces, Kanwar Dilshad said that new provinces should be created on administrative basis including the Bahawalpur province.

He also paid a rich tribute to Nawab of Bahawalpur and said that Nawab of Bahawalpur sacrificed his everything for the creation and existence of Pakistan.