ISLAMABAD - President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should be strengthened to such an extent so that there was no need of setting up a caretaker government for conducting general election.

He said Pakistan was among the countries where interim governments were set up and there would be no need for the same if the top election body was more strengthened.

Speaking at a function arranged in connection with ‘Voters Registration Day’ at Aiwan-e-Sadr, he said conducting of free and fair polls was constitutional responsibility of the ECP. Free and transparent elections with full participation of voters would strengthen democracy, he added.

The President said strengthening of the ECP and other state institutions would put Pakistan on the road to progress and prosperity. He said in order to highlight the importance of vote and to encourage people to register themselves for voting, the ECP was observing December 7 as voters registration day. Marking of the day would encourage more young voters to take part in the political process, he added.  Congratulating the Election Commission for conducting the general election 2018 in a free, fair and transparent manner and delimitation process, he urged the top election body to concentrate on making arrangements for electronic voting for the 2023 elections.

Such kinds of machines were very much important for those countries where there was possibility of unfair voting, he said, adding it would end arising of conflicts on the election day.

The President said the Parliament, the government and the Election Commission should come forward and play their role to end conflicts in that regard. “There is no democracy without free, fair and transparent elections and the conflicts arising out after allegations of rigging in polls damaged the country,” he added.

The President said findings of the Parliamentary Committee to probe alleged rigging in 2018 elections would also help the ECP to improve its system for future polls.

He said improvement had been made in electoral rolls. He, however, stressed for making the voter registration process more easy.

Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza speaking on the occasion said the ECP was committed to ensure that elections were conducted in accordance with the law and in a manner which allowed every eligible Pakistani to cast their vote.

He said following the enactment of Elections Act 2017, the ECP immediately conducted the delimitation exercise in a short span of time to ensure conducting of the general election 2018 in time.

The CEC said the Commission had introduced a number of initiatives to further develop and strengthen the electoral process and for voters’ facilitation. He said the ECP had launched a comprehensive training programme and trained over 850,000 officials across the country to carry out their duties in the 2018 polls.

He said that for the first time, the ECP introduced ballot papers with security features such as watermarks to prevent any fraudulent attempts to duplicate ballots.

govt taking all steps to improve

health sector

President Dr Arif Alvi had directed Federal Insurance Ombudsman (FIO) Muhammad Raeesuddin Paracha to take up the matter with Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Insurance Companies to the effect that while passing orders rejecting insurance claims, the Companies be bound to inform the claimant/policy holder that in case of non-satisfaction, he/she has the remedy to approach FIO to seek redressal of the grievance.

In compliance of the President’s advice, SECP has notified policy directions and bound all the Insurers to convey/apprise the policy holder through letter about the respective complaint resolution forums along with their addresses both in English and Urdu languages.

Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi said on Friday that government is taking all necessary steps to improve health sector.

Addressing a health symposium organised at PIMS in Islamabad on Friday, he said social cushions like health cards will bring about a visible change in the lives of people as they will not have to worry for expenditures during any illness.

The President said medicine is a noble profession that serves the humanity and social standing of doctors needs to be improved.

 He emphasised the importance of medical research for improving the healthcare sector.

The President appreciated the role of Health Minister Amir Mehmood Kayani for bringing visible improvements in his ministry. He also congratulated the administration and staff of PIMS for expanding the facilities at hospital.

Addressing the ceremony, Minister for National Health Services Aamir Mahmood Kiani said the health card scheme will be launched tomorrow (Saturday). Under this scheme, twenty to twenty five million poor segments of the society will be provided with health cards. The Minister said that the health budget which is currently 0.67 percent of the GDP will also be enhanced to two percent from next fiscal year. He said Islamabad will be made model health city with right kind of interventions. He said four new hospitals will be built in the federal capital. Besides basic health units will be made fully functional.

In his remarks, Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMs) Raja Amjad Mehmood gave a presentation on different projects of the hospital.

He said kidney transplant centre has been made functional in the hospital. Over the last three months, eight kidney transplants were conducted.

He said we recently inaugurated a separate ward for transgender community. He said we are providing hundred per cent free medicines including stents to the cardiac patients.