March 10; UNDP in collaboration with PILDAT organized a Consultation Forum in Peshawar on the latest Electoral Reforms currently before the Parliament. The objective of the forum was to inform and engage citizens and policymakers to strengthen the electoral processes in Pakistan for free, fair and credible elections.
Speakers at the Forum included Mr. Muhammad Farid Afridi, Joint Provincial Election Commissioner, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Darren Nance, Chief Technical Advisor UNDP – SELP, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director, PILDAT.
Mr. Muhammad Farid Afridi said that the ECP remains keen on effective implementation of its constitutional responsibilities. In this regard, the ECP also shared a reform package consisting of 40 amendments before the Parliament. The ECP is also working to review implementation of legal amendments made already by the Parliament in the Elections Act, 2017.
Mr. Darren Nance said that UNDP’s project on Strengthening Electoral and Legislative Processes (SELP) works to promote accountability and transparency. He expressed his pleasure upon seeing participation from political parties along with members of the civil society, academia and media to discuss electoral reforms for credible, fair and inclusive elections in Pakistan. The purpose of consultation was to provide a forum to develop coordination among key stakeholders to discuss the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and discuss the clauses to contribute to an inclusive process of lawmaking.
Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT, said that the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2020 was introduced in the National Assembly of Pakistan on October 16, 2020. The Bill was referred to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs which approved the bill on June 08, 2021. The PTI government also promulgated the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance on February 06, 2021. On June 10, 2021, after suspending the rules, the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021 (which was the modified version of the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance) were passed by the National Assembly. On November 17, 2021, in a joint sitting of the Parliament, the Elections (Second Amendment) Act, 2021 was passed. This forum is organized to hold consultations on the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021 pending before the Senate of Pakistan. He said that a rigorous process of consultation should have ideally taken place on the bill in the Parliament by inviting citizens’ input. PILDAT & UNDP Pakistan have made an effort to discuss this in order to facilitate informed consultation and contribute towards a consensus on the law.
Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT, presented an overview of the key clauses of the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to lay-down the basis of the consultation.
The Consultation Forum was attended by representatives of four (4) political parties including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Awami National Party (ANP) Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JIP) and Jamiat ulema Islam (JUI). These included Ms. Asia Saleh Khattak (MPA, PTI), Mr. Maaz Ahmed Kakakhel (JIP), Mr. Ranjeet Singh (MPA, JUI) and Mr. Salahuddin Mohmand (ANP). Representatives from Media & Civil Society included Mr. Muhammad Waqas, member 17th Youth Parliament Pakistan (YPP), Mr. Nisar Mahmood, Correspondent The News International, Dr. Amir Ullah, Associate Professor Islamia College Peshawar (ICP), Mr. Tehsin Ullah Khan, Lecturer Islamia College Peshawar (ICP), Mr. Muhammad Yasir, Islamia College Peshawar (ICP) , Dr. Sumera Gul, Lecturer Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU), Mr. Tabassum Majeed, Lecturer Islamia College Peshawar (ICP), Dr. Aamer Taj, Associate Professor IMSciences, Dr. Sadaf Bashir, Assistant Professor Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU), Dr. Asghar Khan, Director Policy Research and Development Organization (PRAND), Mr. Muhammad Faheem, Policy Research and Development Organization (PRAND), Dr. Abdul Rauf, Associate Professor University of Peshawar (UOP), Ms. Fauzia Ali, Project Coordinator Shirkatgah and Mr. Shahid Mehmood, Regional Director-Peshawar Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).