‘Senate has become centre of horse-trading’

Islamabad : The senate of Pakistan has become a centre of horse- trading, as some candidates spent crores of rupees to buy votes and get elected. Reserved seats for women should also be abolished, as those elected on reserved seats aren’t treated equally and lack representative character, said former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while emphasising the need for electoral reforms, says a press release.

He said that better option would be to bind political parties to award specific percentage of tickets to women for ensuring the increased participation of women in political system. He also questioned the role of establishment in elections, and emphasised that a democratic system, where there is no sanctity of ballot box, can’t deliver.

Shahid Khaqan was addressing a seminar hosted by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) and the Coalition for Election and Democracy (CED) at a hotel here.

Mohsin Dawar, chairman, National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Taj Haider, Birgit Lamm from Frederich Naumann Foundation (FNF), Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, founding director of CPDI, election experts and other key stakeholders also attended the session with their inputs.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi while addressing the seminar questioned that, how democracy can be fixed if elections were not held with transparency? He said that no election was transparent after 1970.

While talking about the right of vote to expatriates, he said that they already have the right of vote but they need to come back and vote during the elections, just like people based in Pakistan but living in different cities on the poll say have to come back to their respective constituencies to vote. He said that our existing system is tested and quite strong, but no system can deliver if there are organised efforts to manipulate.

Mohsin Dawar talked about election engineering before the election day. He claimed that the census in our country is also tempered with, and population of certain areas has not accurately counted. He was of the view that each time a new style of rigging is adopted.

Senator Farhatullah Babar in his address said that we need to bring all government agencies within the orbit of law. He said that electoral reforms can’t deliver until all state institutions commit to holding free and fair elections.

Senator Taj Haider while addressing the seminar pointed out that challenge related to census and delimitation of constituencies needs to be addressed. He also said that we can use technology in a proper way for elections, but only after building required capacities and safety features against manipulation.

Mukhtar Ahmed Ali in his address emphasised that a multi-party special parliamentary committee should immediately be formed for timely finalisation of the electoral reforms in the country. He said that elections act 2017 was implemented in 2018 elections on which different local and international observers issued their reports, but political parties have not benefitted from those reports for further electoral reforms.

Birgit Lamm, Pakistan representative of FNF in her address said that the dialogue is very important for electoral reforms. She showed satisfaction over the fact that during the last five bye-elections, people by and large accepted the results.

During the seminar Taha Ali, an assistant professor of NUST, while referring to his study said that introducing technology without proper homework will fail to produce results and public distrust will increase.

During the seminar, key experts Zafarullah Khan, Khawar Mumtaz, Tahir Mehdi, Shabir Ahmed and others also gave their input.


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