ISLAMABAD - Majority of members of the important parliamentary committee tasked to bring electoral reforms were found absent during a meeting of the committee held yesterday. Only seven members of the 15-member sub-committee of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms managed to attend the important meeting on election reforms to discuss the recommendations proposed by the major Electoral Reforms Committee.

Before the committee could meet at 10.30am at the venue, PML-N leader Zahid Hamid who is convener of the sub-committee on Electoral Reforms had to walk the corridors in the Parliament House as he found no member by 11am present on the spot.

But thanks to MNA Sherin Mazari, member of the committee, who appeared to be the first to make it to the Constitution Avenue despite the fact that three lawmakers of her party are members of the important committee.

In a bid to ensure that majority of the members make presence, Zahid Hamid was observed making calls to his colleagues requesting them to attend the meeting but to no avail.

Being an in-camera activity where media persons were not allowed to cover proceedings of the committee, only five out of the 15 members had reached the venue by 12.30pm with some political parties like MQM, ANP, Qaumi Wattan Party and FATA lawmakers did not make their representation.

Two key members of PPP who enjoy command over constitutional interpretation including Senator Aitzaz Ahsan and Farooq H Naek were also among the absentees and thus only two out of 4 members of PPP attended the meeting.

Head of QWP MNA Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, ANP’s Senator Sitara Ayaz, MQM’s Farooq Sattar and FATA MNA Ghazi Gulab Jamal remained absent on the occasion thus their respective parties failed to give input on bringing electoral reforms in the country.

The meeting lasted for less than an hour and according to a source privy to the development, the members continued to engage in gossip sparing little time to discuss the items on the agenda.

JI MNA Sahibzada Tariqullah was observed leaving the room and then disappeared with some guests. JUI-F lawmaker Naeema Kishwar Khan too left the meeting half way.

Zahid Hamid, however, told The Nation that the meeting discussed the 200 point of the unified elections laws clause by clause adding that 80 percent progress has been made on reforming the electoral system.

Hamid candidly said that Farooq H Naek has not turned up for once while Senator Aitzaz Ahsan had attended few meetings of the total 30 meetings that have taken place so far.

“But it is not true that lawmakers are not doing anything on election reforms. We discussed the use of biometric machines and direct election of women. We will soon table the recommendations on floor of the National Assembly and Senate for approval,” the PML-N lawmaker added.

PTI MNA Sherin Mazari told this reporter on phone that the clause by clause discussion on the combined electoral laws was made adding the lawmakers (members) sought punitive action against those not enforcing/following the electoral laws.

The issue of giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis has not yet been resolved as according to official sources, the ECP is of the view that it was a gigantic task that will take long time to materialize.

However, ECP in a statement has vowed that it will give voting rights of to Pakistanis abroad rejecting the notion that the commission has backtracked on the project.