LAHORE -  The intra-party elections in political parties have become a strange phenomenon in country’s politics over the years. All political parties with the exception of Jamaat-e-Islami get their office-bearers elected unopposed by an election process whose transparency has always been questionable.

The PPP and the PPP-P held their intra-party polls on 7th and 8th of January to elect their office-bearers for a period of four years. As expected, all the aspirants were elected unopposed as no one dared file nomination papers against the candidates nominated by the top leadership.

PPP’s newly elected Secretary Information Ch Manzoor said that two separate electoral colleges, comprising party delegates from districts, elected the new office-bearers of the two parties.

He said that this was in accordance with the party constitution and the relevant law.

The PML-N and the PML-Q also did a similar exercise last year and all party office-bearers including the party heads were elected without any real contest. Those who filed nomination papers against the nominees of top leadership withdrew their candidature at the last moment to prevent any voting by the electoral-college. 

The credit must be given to the Jamaat-e-Islami whose intra-party elections are always held through a transparent process which allows open competition giving fair chance of election to every party man.

This is the reason that there is no permanent head in this party.

Under Section-11 of Political Parties Order, 2002, it is a legal requirement that all political parties shall hold intra-party polls after every four years through secret ballot based on a democratic and transparent system.

According to Clause (2) of Section 11, every party member of the political party, subject to the provisions of the party’s Constitution, shall be provided with an equal opportunity of contesting election for any party office including that of the party leader.

Under Section 12, the party leader of each political party is required to submit it a certificate under his signatures to the Election Commission that the elections were held in accordance with the constitution of the party and in accordance with provisions of this law.

The party head is also bound under the law to submit the election results, including the total number of votes cast and the number of votes secured by each contestant for all of its party offices.

But the Election Commission has never questioned the transparency of intra-party polls of any political party. The list of ‘elected’ party office bearers is accepted without raising any objection.

Former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan, Kanwar Dilshad said that it was the duty of the Commission to ensure that the intra-party polls in political parties are held as per rules and in a transparent manner.

He said that the manner in which the PPP and the PPP-P conducted their polls was highly questionable.

Jamaat-e-Islami Amir Sirajul Haq said that Election Commission should conduct the intra-party elections to ensure transparency. But this is not possible unless all the parties in the Parliament evolve consensus over this point.

The Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms has also not touched this issue in its deliberations on country’s new electoral system.