Lot of letters have appeared in almost all the national dailies on the coming elections and many good suggestions have been forwarded to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). It is hoped that the ECP will write a new chapters in the history of Pakistan. Everyone agrees that the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, is an honest man of impeccable integrity. Prior to the 18th Amendment the CEC had executive powers to take decisions and he was the final authority to give a ruling. The 18th Amendment, however, significantly reduced these powers of the CEC, which were transferred to the ECP as a whole; in simple language he has just one vote. The current members were selected by eight members of the parliamentary committee concerned instead of 12. Thus, the process followed was not in accordance with the constitution. Their appointments therefore are illegal.

Dr Tahir ul Qadri’s petition about the unconstitutional appointment of the members of the ECP filed in the Supreme Court was not discussed because the court found fault with him holding dual nationality and dismissed his petition. Coming elections will be held under existing arrangements with the biggest drawback, and if any member decides to resign during scrutiny, the elections cannot be held, and there is no safety valve to overcome this hurdle. In Pakistan, politically affiliated persons can do anything. Are we prepared for that?

I dare make a suggestion or two for the EC to consider: the first is while receiving papers the candidate should also appear before the commission. Since all the data has been compiled and if there is anything against him, his application should be rejected. In case of dispute he can go to court. But under no circumstances should his application be accepted. If any candidate files his application from jail on the pretext that his case is pending, it should be rejected; the mere fact that he is under trial disqualifies him as per (iv) article 62 and 63 to be applied strictly in accordance with the constitution. If this is done we hope to have a majority of new faces in our legislative assemblies and dynastic politics will be buried, perhaps for ever


Karachi, February 25.