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August 14, 2017

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Govt will have to summon parliament’s joint session

Govt will have to summon parliament’s joint session

ISLAMABAD: After getting indications of full-fledged resistance on proposed Election Bill 2017 from members belonging to Upper House of the Parliament, the government has been left with no other option but to summon Joint Session of Parliament by next month (September) for getting approval of its tabled bill in order to hold the next general elections under new law.

Now Senate would be meeting on August 21, 2017 in which the Upper House of Parliament might consider this bill amid strong possibility for its rejection in its present shape so the Senate is all set to reject it in totality or approve it with certain amendments in it.

Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar told The News last week that the government would make all out efforts to convince Parliament for approval of this proposed from both Houses of Parliament. The government, he said, did not refer this bill before the Parliamentary Committee in the National Assembly and same course of action would be adopted in case of Senate as hectic parleys were already held among all stakeholders during the proceedings of Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms.

The minister said that in case of resistance from the Senate, the government would convene Joint Session of Parliament for getting approval of this proposed bill because it could not be prolonged forever if there was wish to hold the next elections under the new law.

On other hand, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenues Senator Saleem Mandviwalla while talking to The News on Saturday said that they possessed major concerns on the proposed bill as efforts were made to further destroy the electoral system in Pakistan through this proposed legislations. He said that there was altogether different methodology for passing legislation from the Upper House of Parliament as Senators read each and every word written in the bill and discussed it in length before stamping their approval.

“Instead of making electoral system foolproof, the proposed bill has incorporated major lacunas in it and in the presence of such proposed bill free and fair elections would be a far cry,” he added.

He said that his party as well as other Senators would like to propose amendments in the bill and it would be simply impossible to pass the proposed bill in its existing form. In the proposed bill, all elections related laws would be consolidated through proposed Election Bill 2017 where 8 basic laws were made part of it. In addition to 8 existing laws, the proposed bill incorporated two law related to Local Governments (LGs) and bindings for caretaker governments were made mandatory through constitutional amendments.

The future caretaker government would be bound for not striking any agreement that burdened the future government coming into power after winning elections. For the ECP, the bill proposed more autonomy where they would be given administrative and financial autonomy.

The Bill proposed that the ECP would be empowered to devise their own rules and there would be no requirement for them to seek approval of the caretaker government for running their affairs.

More openness and transparency would be assured as forms 14 and 15 would be placed on ECP website soon after the official results of the elections. On Electronic Voting Machines, the official said that the consensus could not be achieved on its usage as different stakeholders including European Union (EU) opposed it on the pretext that it did not seem feasible here in case of Pakistan.

They said that it required cost of Rs60 billion and it could be hacked as well. For giving right of voting to overseas Pakistanis, the consensus could not be achieved as there was no solutions available for placing mechanisms for coating of their votes on election day.

The PTI had proposed casting of vote through mobile phones but one professor in presence of officials claimed that he could hack such mechanism just right now so it was also dropped. On biometric verification of voters, the official said that it would be used on pilot project basis before taking decision to adopt it for general elections.

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