This monitor is meant to identify key developments during the month on Internal Democracy of Political Parties in Pakistan. In this issue:
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – New EC rules for intra-party elections 2015
After PTI’s Election Tribunal announced the dissolution of all elected bodies of PTI on March 22, 2015, Chairman Imran Khan, in accordance with the recommendation of the tribunal, appointed Mr. Tasneem Noorani as PTI’s Chief Election Commissioner with all the powers that he would need to carry out the tasks relating to membership, electoral rolls and formation of any committee to assist him in carrying out these functions.1 Finally, on September 19, 2015, the PTI Election Commission issued the rules and regulations for conducting intra-party elections, signed and approved by the Chairman Imran Khan.2 The rules have also been made available for the public3 but the date of election has not yet been announced.
Most parties in Pakistan have weak internal democracy and the tradition of competitive and genuine intra-party elections is not well established. However, PTI has been able to lead the way by holding a keenly contested intra-party election back in 2012 even though a number of flaws were later discovered. It is heartening to see serious groundwork being done for intra-party election in a popular political party. According to the constitution of PTI4 , the Central Executive Committee (CEC) would approve the rules of election. As we understand that there is no elected CEC in PTI presently, the Chairman exercised the powers to approve these rules.
Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been presiding over meetings this month in Islamabad and Lahore for activating the party in Punjab. However, for the past 3 months, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, former President of Pakistan and Co-chairman PPP, continues to remain absent from the country and summons his party’s leadership off and on in Dubai to hold meetings relating to party affairs and upcoming local government elections.
Democratic parties develop into robust institutions that are more important than individuals even when they happen to be party heads. Party leadership should allow the parties to grow in stature by holding and attending party meetings at the party offices. Calling the entire party leadership to the leader’s residence in a foreign land is not befitting the image of a democratic political party
During a series of party meetings in Lahore, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, agreed to form an accountability commission within the party upon the growing number of corruption charges against the PPP members.5 Media reports say that members of the party were raising their concerns regarding the consistent allegations of corruption against party leaders and its increasingly tarnished image, after which the Chairman ‘agreed’ to form an ‘accountability commission’ consisting of four to six people for the purpose of internal accountability of the leaders.
This political will to combat corruption within the party is appreciated in the context of internal democracy. It is highly imperative that PPP adopts an anti-corruption mandate and comes up with effective reforms within the party. Further progress on this new commission is awaited.
The provincial executive council of JUI-F’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chapter served notices on 22 of its councillors and terminated the basic membership of 6 of them for going against the party’s candidates in the ‘nazim’ elections in different districts.6 The party’s provincial general council took this decision and names of terminated members included Asghar Ali, Ali Gul, Mohammad Khalid, Haji Aftab and Patras Masih from Lakki Marwat and Safiullah Khattak from Torghar.
Political parties have a requirement to undertake certain measures for the promotion of ethical conduct among its members and leaders, and take action against unethical behaviour and/or violation of party laws. Following the due codes of conduct and disciplinary processes accounts for a certain level of internal democracy in the party. However, it is important that the party leadership also devise preventive measures in order to minimalize such incidents of violation.
Notification, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Central Secretariat, March 24, 2015, as accessed on Sep 30, 2015 at http://www.insaf.pk/images/National_News/201504/CEC_Notification_with_TOR.jpg
Press Release, Insaf, Sep 19, 2015, as accessed on Sep 30, 2015 at http://insaf.pk/news/national-news/item/1791191-pti-election-rules-and-regulations-approved-by-the-chairman-imran-khan
Election Commission Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Rules & Regulations for Conduct of Intra-party elections 2015, https://www.scribd.com/doc/281950953/PTI-EC-Rules-and-Regulations-for-Conducting-IPE-2015
PTI Constitution, Official Website, http://insaf.pk/about-us/know-pti/constitution
Bilawal ‘agrees’ to form body for accountability within PPP, Dawn, Sep 10, 2015, as accessed on Sep 30, 2015 at http://www.dawn.com/news/1206012/bilawal-agrees-to-form-body-for-accountability-within-ppp
JUI-F expels six of its councilors, Dawn, Sep 5, 2015, as accessed on Sep 30, 2015 at http://www.dawn.com/news/1205081