ISLAMABAD - Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms Chairman Ishaq Dar, who is also federal finance minister, on Tuesday said the committee has proposed some 13 amendments in the constitution besides structural changes in the incumbent Election Commission of Pakistan, aimed at reforming the prevalent electoral system in the country.

Giving details of the proposals of the 34-member Parliamentary Committee on the electoral reforms to make the Election Commission of Pakistan more powerful and autonomous, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and convener of the sub-committee of the main reforms body dealing with the legal and constitutional intricacies said the committee has completed almost 80 percent of its job and now they hoped it would take another month or so to submit its final recommendations to the Parliament.

Elaborating major decisions taken by the committee, Ishaq Dar said that now the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan could be technocrats as well as serving and retired bureaucrats, besides retired judges of the superior judiciary.

Addressing a news conference, Dar further said the government has also presented the copy of Judicial Commission’s report to the reforms committee so that its recommendations could be made in complete harmony with the JC’s report. They could also take points from the lacunae and flaws pointed out by the Judicial Commission in the prevalent electoral system in the country to ensure that future elections are held in more free, fair and transparent fashion, he added.

He revealed the committee has also recommended that overseas Pakistanis should be given the voting right in future elections in the country for which a mechanism would be evolved if it was finally approved by the Parliament.

He further disclosed that the committee has proposed grant of more financial and administrative autonomy to the Election Commission of Pakistan besides proposing increase in number of polling stations in each constituency. The committee members were not on the same page regarding the introduction of biometric system and electronic voting in the future elections. In this connection, the committee would do discussion and debate in the light of the briefing given to them by the technical people.

It was also proposed that in the constituencies where the total women vote cast remains less than the total polled votes Election Commission of Pakistan would declare the elections null and void.

The convener of the sub-committee, former federal minister Zahid Hamid, said the team members had diligently put in their efforts to make the working of the sub-committee effective and fruitful. “We have given maximum time to the members to give their input in making the reforms comprehensive, which would have backing of all the political parties in the country,” he added.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that under the new set of proposals, the Election Commission of Pakistan would be bound to hold local government elections in the country within 120 days after the expiry of the term. Similarly, the officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan, during election duty, would have judicial powers to award punishment to those found violating or flouting the polling rules.

It was further proposed that retired/serving bureaucrats of good repute could be taken as the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan against the prevalent laws which bar persons other than judiciary from becoming its members.

Zahid Hamid revealed the committee had sought proposal from political parties, civil society, lawyers’ fraternity and general public to make the electoral system in the country flawless. In all, some 1,283 proposals consisting of over 4,000 pages were received by the committee from various quarters.