ISLAMABAD All the major political parties except the ruling PPP by and large supported on Tuesday the reforms agenda of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The PPP and Balochistan National Party (Awami) did not participate in all political parities conference held under the auspices of the ECP. The meeting was presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (Retd) Hamid Ali Mirza. Over a dozen mainstream political parties gave their diverse proposals on how to make the electoral processes more transparent and credible. Later, Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, Secretary ECP, briefed media that there was a consensus during the meeting that computerised national identity card (CNIC) should be a mandatory condition for registration as voter as well as for voting. He said that the Election Commission has already sent a summary to this effect to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for necessary legislation. Khan said that the Election Commission had prepared a time-bound action plan to rectify the errors in the computerised electoral rolls within six months. He said that some participants also raised the issue of election of certain candidates in the elections on the basis of fake degrees. The Secretary said that there should be a punishment for those who manage to be elected through fraudulent practices. He said the participants were unanimous that those, including polling staff, responsible for rigging in any election, political parties and candidates should be awarded punishment. He disclosed that the magisterial powers given to the Returning Officers have never been exercised. Likewise, no one exceeding the limit on election expenses or violating the code of conduct in any other manner has ever been punished. Kahn said the consultation with the political leadership marked conclusion of the first phase of consultations on the five-year strategic plan developed by the Election Commission. Secretary Election Commission Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan said the meeting also discussed on how to check the mushroom growth of political parties in the country. Answering a question whether the political party of former military dictator General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf had contacted the EC for registration, he said, the All Pakistan Muslim League factions had applied some two months back, but without certain documents necessary for the purpose. He said that now the documents had been completed and the application would be considered at a meeting of the Commission on April 10. One of the interesting suggestions at the meeting was to do away with the practice of secret balloting for certain important offices in which all elected representatives form the electoral college. Though the Secretary EC did not elaborate, it meant voting by show of hands for the offices of the President, Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Senate and Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the National and Provincial Assemblies. All the participants with the exception of PML-Q called for strict enforcement of the prescribed limit for election expenditures. The PML-Q was of the view that condition of limit on election expenses should be dispensed with because it was never fully applied in practical terms with the result that candidates end up in giving false statements on expenses. Other suggestions included allocation of permanent election symbols to political parties, swift disposal of election-related disputes, Local Government polls under ECs supervision, installation of close circuit TV cameras at sensitive polling stations, formation of parliamentary committee on electoral forms having representation of all the parliamentary parties, introduction of electronic voting machines. All the participants were of the view that there should be democracy within the political parties. The ECP has earlier consulted representatives of the civil society and members of the Election Support Group comprising diplomats and international organisations supporting electoral reforms in Pakistan. Out of fifteen invited to the conference, only 13 political parties attended the meeting. The prominent among those who attendd the meeting were Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain Syed (PML-Q), Dr Farooq Sattar (MQM), Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Ahsan Iqbal (PML-N). Hashim Babar, Additional Secretary ANP, Dr Fareed Piracha, Deputy Secretary General Jamaat-e-Islami, Madni Baluch, Deputy Secretary General Jamhoori Watan Party, Dr Ishaq Baluch, Vice President National Party, Sheikh Anwar Saeed, Secretary General PML (F), Saifullah Khan Niazi, Additional Secretary General Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), Akram Shah, Secretary General Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), Senator Dr Khalid Mehmood Secretary General JUI-F (Sindh), Noreen Mumtaz Chatta of PPP (S) and Naseer Ahmad Shahwani of BNP (Mengal) also attended the meeting.