This is a preliminary report issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) for observing the election process at PS 114 – Karachi XXVI. Total number of polling stations set up in the constituency is 92 with 368 polling booths. The observation teams reached the designated polling stations at 7:30 am to observe the preparedness of the poling staff and the opening process of voting at the polling stations.
The polling staff was present on the sampled polling stations at the starting time of the voting process. It was observed that female staff had been deputed on the polling booths designated for the females; however majority of presiding officers was male.
Starting time of the polling is 8 am however 60% of the sampled polling stations started late with delay of 11 to 30 minutes; major cause of delay was unpreparedness of polling staff where staff took extra time to set up the polling booths and take positions to initiate the voting process. The polling station lay out at the start of the polling was generally found to be suitable for voting; 80% observers reported that.
The preliminary report reveals adequate polling material was provided at majority of polling stations, though at one polling station the presiding officer claimed that slightly less number of ballot papers as compared to the total number of registered voters was issued by ECP. Presiding officer of one polling station in Malir received 1500 ballot papers against 1966 registered voters shown in the polling scheme available at ECP website. Upon query by CED observer, he clarified that the updated voters list provided to him contained only 1067 registered voters and he had sufficient number of ballot papers to conduct the polling. This shows a polling data available at ECP website does not conform with the voter list provided to poling staff to conduct the elections.
The polling staff carried out the opening procedures at 100% of the sampled polling stations, the empty ballot boxes were shown to the polling agents and sealed in their presence. The polling started at all polling booths in presence of the poling agents from major political parties. The CED observers were allowed to observe the opening process without any restrictions.
Though major parties have tried to deploy their polling agents at polling stations but a lot of polling booths still lacked presence of some of the major parties’ polling agents. An analysis of preliminary data available at the starting time of the polling shows that MQM-Pakistan had maximum presence with polling agents deployed at 85% of the sampled polling booths. While Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) has the lowest presence with its polling agents deployed at 25% of the polling booths. Peoples party, PML (N), Jamat-e-Islami, and PTI had their polling agents present on 80%, 70%, 65% and 50% sampled polling booths respectively at the opening of the polling stations.
The 80% observers rated the overall conduct of the opening process at the polling station to be good and by the book. There was no untoward incident reported at and around the sampled polling stations upon the opening of the voting. However one of the observers reported unrest and tension building up in and outside of the polling station while she was leaving a polling station situated in Chanesor Village.
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) budget 2017-18 shows a steep declining trend in development investments for Education and Environment Protection while a slight increase in the energy sector still keeps it below one percent of the total development budget.
Lahore: Punjab government has not given due share to environment and energy sectors in its development budget for the year 2017-18; Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) expresses its concerns while reacting to the budget. Climate change and energy crisis are the two major issues challenging country’s economic growth. Punjab government has allocated 1.3% of the development budget for both of these sectors collectively. This gives a serious blow to the peoples’ expectations attached to the budget that marks start of the election year.
Punjab government has not given due share to environment and energy sectors in its development budget for the year 2017-18; Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) expresses its concerns while reacting to the budget.
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage has approved right to information bill tabled by government on May 15, 2017 with undue haste and without listening to citizens, civil society groups and journalists. Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI) requested through a letter dated May 17, 2017 to Chairman of the committee that the Right of Access to Information Bill 2017 under its consideration is restrictive like Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 it seeks to repeal. Furthermore, CPDI also shared specific recommendations with Chairman of the committee to improve right to information bill. It is one of the most important democratic norms that committees listen to concerns of citizens and their groups during the legislative process but Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage chose not to address concerns of right to information experts convey through letters, print and electronic media. Instead of empowering proposed independent and autonomous information commission, the bill approved by Senate committee empowers federal ministers to decide what people should or should not know.
Executive Director, Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI), Mr. Amer Ejaz said through the statement that it is mind – boggling as to how will ministers resolve conflict of interest in deciding whether information should or should not be shared with the people. Of what use would be the autonomy and independence of information commission if it does not have the power to disclose information in public interest?”
It should be noted that The Centre for Law and Democracy, Canada, which ranks right to information laws on their level of compliance with standards of effective right to information legislation, has given this right to information bill only 105 points out of 150. Sri Lanka scores 131, India 128, the Maldives 116 and Bangladesh 107. CPDI urges federal government to seek input of RTI experts, civil society and journalists when right to information bill is sent to National Assembly.
Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) organized a seminar in Islamabad, highlighting the importance of timely completion of the Electoral Reforms process.
The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has launched a mobile application that would provide complete development budget information to people, CPDI Executive Director Amer Ejaz said. Speaking at the launching ceremony, Punjab Assembly Standing Committee on Local Government Chairman Abdul Razaq Dhillon said access to district development budget will not only increase transparency and public participation in local governance but will also prove to be a great step towards strengthening local governments. CPDI Budget Tracker Mobile App was in line with the vision of the Punjab government on e-governance.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2017.