Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) organized a seminar in Islamabad, highlighting the importance of timely completion of the Electoral Reforms process.
Mr. Amer Ejaz, Executive Director CPDI during his introductory address informed participants about CPDI work in different fields related to governance and democracy. He told that the CPDI had been implementing projects on elections monitoring, voter and civic education and advocacy for electoral reforms. He said that the seminar was arranged for providing a forum to all related stakeholders to discuss and workout ways for accelerating the reforms process so that it would complete well in time before next general elections in 2018. He also shared CPDI’s intent to expand its elections portfolio pursuing multiple initiatives focusing on voter and civic education, advocacy for electoral reforms with a special emphasis on inclusion of persons with disabilities, election observation etc. He thanked all the participants for making the event a successful one.
Ms. Nighat Siddique, Additional Director General Training & Gender, ECP made a presentation on the proposed reforms affecting marginalized voters including women and persons with disabilities. She emphasized the need to make all electoral processes inclusive so that none of the marginalized segments of population were excluded. She also shared the steps taken by the ECP to mainstream women and persons with disabilities in the elections and electoral systems in Pakistan.
Mr. Shabir Ahmed, Country Director, International Foundation for Electoral Systems shared that unification and refinement of the electoral laws in line with the demand of the voters, political parties and other stakeholders was the need of time. He also pointed out the need to approve and implement of the reforms package well before general elections 2018. He requested all participant to play their role in whatever capacity they were engaged with the electoral reforms process.
Mr. Zafar Hussain, Additional Secretary ECP was the Chief Guest he could not attend the seminar due to the meeting of parliamentary committee on electoral reform. His message was read out by Ms. Nighat; in his message he shed light on the tireless efforts of the Parliamentary Committee members to put together recommendations for improving the electoral systems. He also highlighted the technical inputs of the ECP staff to facilitate the Committee Members in designing the electoral reforms package.
After the presentations, a panel of election experts and representatives of media engaged with the audience over discussion about the electoral reforms package. Participants asked multiple questions about different aspects of the reforms and recorded suggestions for consideration by the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms. The panel included, apart from the above mentioned delegates, Mr. Qazi Salem former joint secretary ECP, Matiulah Jan from Waqt TV and Arooj Raza from Roze TV. Mr. Qazi said that electoral reforms finalisation process should be accelerated the bill must be passed immediately so that ECP has enough time to implement the reforms. Ms. Arooj commented that the last elections saw serious delay in declaration of results, this time the ECP must prepare it self well to avoid such delay. Mr. Matiullah Jan said that the ECP needs to make the electoral process more transparent. The participants representing associations of persons with disabilities, NGOs, academia and media asked questions and shared suggestions for the electoral reforms.
Published in The Nation
18 May 2017