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- Monday, September 17, 2012 - From Print Edition

In his article ‘Election reform’ (The News, Sept 12), Harris Khalique stressed the need for electoral reform and offered valuable suggestions which can greatly contribute towards the establishment of a healthy and stable democracy in our country. While everyone talks about reform, very few focus on the need for replacement of the first-past-the-post system of polls that is practised in our country. I think it is this FPTP system which is the bane of our political system. If 100 votes are cast in an election and the top three contestants get 32, 33 and 34 votes respectively, the winner is the one who gets 34 votes. This is despite the fact that 65 voters did not choose him. This has happened many times in the electoral history of Pakistan. Our political parties have been conscious of this phenomenon, and it is for this reason that they strive to build electoral alliances against larger parties. But strangely, they have never raised any voice against the FPTP system, though they always raise a hue and cry about electoral malpractices.

If the coming elections are to be a means to change, the key reform needed is the introduction of the two-stage, run-off system of polls. It is this system that is most suited to our country where personalities are stronger than political parties. These personalities must be properly elected so that they truly represent the people with a true majority of 51 percent, not with the false majority of 34 percent as happens in the FPTP system. The incumbent chief election commissioner has had a distinguished career in legal and judicial disciplines. He also has the honour of being a consensus candidate of all political parties for his present post. It will be quite natural for him to make a distinguished place for himself in the political history of Pakistan and this he can do not by introducing sham electoral preconditions, such as compulsory residence of a candidate in his constituency for one year, but by opting for a paradigm shift in the electoral process and introduce the two-stage, run-off system of elections. In this way he will open the path for a true change in Pakistan.

Fayyaz Mahmood