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April 16, 2018

ECP urged to play role with great responsibility


April 16, 2018

LAHORE: A seminar on Pre-Requisites of Timely and Transparent 2018 Elections held late on Saturday evening said some elements in political parties are working in a manner which can derail the democratic process.

The seminar was organised by Pakistan Institute of National Affairs (PINA). The speakers said Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which is now a sovereign body equipped with administrative and financial autonomy must play its role with great responsibility and seek national support. It was pointed out that there was a great deal of tolerance and good behaviour on the part of political parties. Judiciary should ensure participation of political parties and leaders in the elections. All the speakers were of the view that nation should demonstrate determination against all the elements bent upon to frustrate the peaceful transfer of power.

The ECP ban will also hurt the CPEC projects going on for the last four years and will increase their cost by billions of rupees, PM’s special adviser on legal initiatives Barrister Zafarullah said here.

Alleging victimisation of one party (PML-N) prior to polls, he said for the first time an official notification by the ECP said that attempts of pre-polls rigging were under way so it has to put a ban on recruitments and execution of new development projects.

The sitting chaired by former governor Shahid Hamid called for efforts to hold the coming general elections in accordance with provisions of the Constitution and in a peaceful atmosphere.

Zafarullah Khan said all political parties were against putting a ceiling on election expenses. He claimed that all parties, including the PTI and PPP, were agreed on the qualification of party head that had recently been got passed by the PML-N from the parliament later quashed by the Supreme Court but the opposition parties changed their stance after the Panama Papers case.

Shahid Hamid called for promoting the culture of tolerance before the polls. PML-N leader Muhammad Mehdi said the democratic project progressed during the last decade but in terms of elections the situation seemed to be leading towards what the masses had witnessed in 2002 when controlled democracy was introduced.

He said apex court had lauded the electoral exercises of 2008 and 2013 but alleged that efforts were afoot to reintroduce the controlled democracy. He warned that the country would be unlucky if transparent and fair election process could not be held.

ANP’s Ehsan Wyne said democratic culture could not be promoted by barring the head of a political party from taking part in elections. PTI’s Ijaz Ch said how transparent elections could be ensured when SHOs were appointed after interviews at Jati Umra, the residence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Punjab University Vice-chancellor Dr Zikriya Zakir, Punjab Higher Education Chairman Dr Nazamuddin and Altaf Hsasn Qureshee highlighted basic requirements for holding fair, free and just elections. Veteran journalist Mujib-Ur- Rahman Shami and Rauf Tahir also spoke at the event.

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