MANDI BAHAUDDIN

The representatives of different political parties including PML-N and PPP criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan over its failure to ensure fairness and transparency in recently held local bodies elections.

A non-profit organisation arranged a meeting of the representatives of political parties at Mandi Press Club to seek their views and observation on the recently held local bodies elections. The representatives from PML-N, PPP, Mustaqbil Pakistan, Awami Tehreek, PML-Q and other political parties participated in the meeting.

The meeting started with recitation of some verses from the Holy Quran. Commenting on LG polls, the participants said that there were various violations of electoral rules including breach of secrecy of voting, canvassing inside polling stations, and presence of security personnel inside polling stations and incidences of interference by security and election staff.

They said, "Prior to the elections, polling scheme was not issued; voters of their original wards were transferred to other wards without their information. Wards lists were made available to candidates after receipt of their nomination papers. This led to rejection of nomination papers of many candidates who had to file appeals to higher forums to restore their nomination papers. Delimitation of wards and union councils did not conform to expectation of voters and candidates. In many cases villages and mohallahs were divided on political basis."

All the participants criticised Election Commission of Pakistan for "lacking tight grip" over the election staff and polling officers. They also pointed out that polling staff was not trained enough for conducting election and because of this they committed irregularities and illegalities.

There was lot of disparity among number of voters of wards and union councils. Some union council had 8,000 voters while other has more than 13,000 voters. Result and polling record forms were not given to candidates soon after the polling stopped, they said, and added it amounts to denial to access of information.

They suggested that ECP should be made stronger to repel influence of rulers. Delimitation of union councils and wards should be done on the basis of bradaries. Polling staff should be appointed from other districts. Polling staff must undergo training before the process of election starts.

The NGO president thanked the participants and assured them that their observations would be submitted to ECP for improving next elections.