should declare Foreign Residential Status when contesting election: PILDAT
sends its feedback on Elections Bill 2017 to the Parliamentary Committee
termed as a positive step
Bill 2017 still requires substantive amendments
February 10; PILDAT has commended the work
done by the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms and termed it as
a positive development for better quality of elections in Pakistan. PILDAT
forwarded its proposed amendments in the Elections Bill 2017 to the Parliamentary
Committee on Electoral Reforms before the expiry of the deadline of
January 19, 2017 and asked the committee to seriously consider and incorporate
the proposed amendments before passing the bill.
A key PILDAT proposal is that all candidates
for the membership of the Senate, National and Provincial Assemblies should
declare their permanent residential status in any foreign country as a part
of the declarations to be made in the nomination forms. ‘Since public
office in Pakistan requires presence in Pakistan and undivided attention of
the elected legislators, it is very important for the electors to know the
foreign residential status such as US ‘Green Card’ or Saudi Iqama,
if any’ said the PILDAT statement.
PILDAT opposed giving exemption to contributions of less than Rs. 100,000
from disclosing name, address and particulars of the contributor. PILDAT said
that all contributions, irrespective of the value, should be identified, recorded
and reported to the Election Commission.
PILDAT called for greater transparency of
political finance and demanded that all financial statements submitted by
the candidates, elected legislators and political parties should be uploaded
on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) website.
PILDAT supported granting of powers to the
ECP to scrutinize the statements of assets and liabilities submitted by election
candidates, elected legislators and political parties.
PILDAT demanded that election ads should not
be allowed on television channels as these will make the election campaign
With regards to the provisions relating to
political parties, PILDAT has recommended that it may be mandated by law that
the Central Executive Committee/Central Working Committee of a party should
be required to meet at least 4 times a year. In addition, political parties
may be asked under law to maintain an updated roster of members, which the
ECP may be able to inspect. Political parties may also be required to make
public, or place the updated list of their General Council and Executive Committee
and all national, provincial and local office bearers on their website. Similarly,
powers and functions of the party head may also be clearly mentioned in the
party’s constitution in order to avoid giving him/her blanket powers.
PILDAT took strong exception to Section 239
of the proposed law, which states that the ECP would have the power to make
rules ‘with the approval of the Government’. This severely
diminishes the independence of the ECP and it should be allowed to make rules
and procedures as it deems fit, without approval of the Government.
PILDAT also stated that the proposed bill
stipulates only 7 days for the review and scrutiny of nomination papers. This
period is not enough and it is critical that the limit be increased to at
least 28 days to facilitate ECP’s cumbersome task of scrutiny.
Importantly, Section 9 of the proposed bill,
which stipulates a minimum percentage of the female vote cast for the election
to be declared valid may be revisited. Rather, the elections bill should list
as an offence to compel any person to vote or refrain from voting, directly
or indirectly, through an agreement or otherwise, as originally stipulated
under Section 81 of Representation of People Act, 1976. In addition, strong
measures should be taken to enforce this.
The detail list of recommendations/amendments
suggested by PILDAT may be accessed at: