Left to Right: Mr. Fida Muhammad( Additional Secretary of the ECP), Dr. Arif Alvi ( MNA, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed (Pakistan Muslim League), Mr. Shafqat Mahmood (MNA PTI), Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan (MNA PML-N)
January 13: Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms discussed limitations faced by the Election Commission of Pakistan that impede its performance. They highlighted lack of capacity and institutional independence as key limitations faced by the ECP during a briefing session hosted by PILDAT.
Member Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms including Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Pakistan Muslim League, Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, MNA (NA-126 Lahore IX, Pakistan Tehreek- e-Insaf), Dr. Arif Alvi, MNA (NA-250 Karachi-XII, Pakistan Tehreek- e-Insaf), and Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, MNA (NA-82 Faisalabad, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz), shared their perspectives at the Briefing Session where PILDAT shared the findings of its Citizens’ Periodic Report of the Performance of the ECP in 2015.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, representing the PML, believed that it would not be wrong to term the ECP as toothless; the ECP lacks any authority to take punitive action against code violators. While he criticized the ECP for failing to exercise its constitutional independence, he acknowledged the technological efforts made by the ECP during the year, especially their Biometric project during Haripur (NA-19) by-election. He also endorsed PILDAT’s recommendation of preparation of an Annual Report by the ECP to share its performance annually. He suggested that a separate body should be created, known as the Election Services of Pakistan (ESP) that should assist the ECP in providing electoral services through out the country.
While discussing the ECP’s performance during 2015, Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, MNA (PTI), pointed out that the ECP needs to take stringent measures to gain public trust that was further weakened during the LG-Elections due to ECP’s mismanagement where voters’ names were transferred from their respective constituencies to other constituencies.
Dr. Arif Alvi, MNA (PTI) and Chairman Parliamentary Sub-committee on Electoral Reforms, believed that the ECP has failed to make any progress on Electronic Voting Machines and voting rights for overseas Pakistanis. He insisted that the ECP should adopt innovative measures to address these issues, if the traditional ways are constraining them given their capacity.
“Innovative solutions are required to meet ECP’s goal to facilitate Overseas Pakistan’s Voting Right.” – Dr. Arif Alvi
Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, MNA (PML-N), pointed out the role of political parties in ensuring the code of conduct is followed during the elections. He also pointed out that the ECP should be more pro-active in engaging the political parties, media and public to gain their trust.
Mr. Fida Muhammad, Additional Secretary of the ECP, shared the efforts made by the ECP during 2015 to improve its performance. He highlighted that various administrative and technological efforts were taken in 2015 to ensure improved performance during the year, especially in the Local Government Elections. He also pointed out various constraints faced by the ECP. He asserted that despite all the efforts made by the ECP, voter turnout remained low in metropolitan cities during the Local Government Elections held in Punjab, Sindh, KP and ICT. The Additional Secretary agreed to the PILDAT recommendation of appointment of spokesperson to address to media and pubic by the ECP and termed it as imperative.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan spent Rs. 10 crore from the Federal Government’s funds for voters education during Local Government Elections, however, voters turnout remained as low as 30%” – Mr. Fida Muhammad, Additional Secretary ECP
The PILDAT Briefing Session was followed by a discussion where participants, including parliamentarians, government officials, esteemed members of media and civil society discussed some of the recommendations that can help improve the state of affairs for this important state institute. While the ECP needs to take stringent measures to improve its performance, it was discussed that the Parliamentary Committee of Electoral Reforms, and the political parties should also perform their role unfailingly to ensure there are no lapses in the laws, rules and regulations set for General Elections 2018. However, the ECP will be responsible for ensuring implementations of these laws and withstand any political or judicial pressure.
Other parliamentarians present included: Mr. Sajid Nawaz, MNA (NA-3 Peshawar-III, PTI), Senator Mr. Sajjad Hussain Turi, IND (FATA), Senator Mr. Hamza, PML-N (Punjab), Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini, BNP-M (Balochistan), Mr. Khalil George, MNA (NA-338 Quetta, PML-N), Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, MNA (NA-334 Karachi, PML-N), Mr. Pervaiz Malik, MNA (NA-123 Lahore-IV, PML-N), Alhaj Shah Jee Gul Afridi, MNA (NA-45 Tribal Area-X, FATA, IND), Mr. Shehryar Afridi, MNA (NA-14 Kohat, PTI), Ms. Nafisa Khattak, MNA (NA-322 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, PTI), Molana Ameer Zaman, MNA (NA-263, Balochistan, JUI-F), Mr. Bismillah Khan, MNA (NA-43 FATA, IND), Mr. Siraj Muhammad Khan, MNA (NA-6 Nowshera-II, PTI), Mr. Muhammad Muzammil Qureshi, MNA (NA-253 Karachi-XV, MQM), Mr. Abdul Waseem, MNA (NA-243 Karachi-V, MQM), Sahibzada Muhammad Yaqub, MNA (NA-34 Lower Dir, JI), Ms. Amra Khan, MNA (NA-30, PML-N), Ms. Sabiha Nazir, MNA (NA-299, PML-N), Ms. Shaheen Shafiq, MNA (NA-292, Punjab, PML-N), and Ms. Aliya Kamran, MNA (NA-332, Balochistan, JUI-F).
PILDAT in its report on The Election Commission of Pakistan in 2015 analysed that despite the ECP’s significant role in the democratic process, the ECP failed to exercise its legal and constitutional right to ensure compliance of Election Rules, as seen during bye-elections conducted during 2015. However, after the lessons learned during Local Government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ECP improved its performance of management of Local Government elections in Punjab and Sindh. The ECP reports to have achieved only 40% progress against 62% targeted progress on 102 goals that were to be achieved by December 2015. This low progress can partly be attributed to its heavy engagement in local government elections throughout the year.
Fair polls linked to free ECP – Daily Dawn, January 14, 2016
Legislators advocate more powers for ECP – Express Tribune, January 14, 2016
ECP failed to obey rules during 2015 by-elections: Experts – The News International, January 14, 2016
Voter turnout in posh localities is poor – The Nation, January 14, 2016
Further Media coverage in Urdu are available at the following links :
The complete report can be accessed at: