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November 12, 2019

ECP’s 2018 election report not being tabled in Parliament

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November 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Federal and provincial governments have delayed the tabling of annual report of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which also includes the major findings of post-election reviews of the polls held in 2018, it has been learnt.

Section 16 of the Election Act 2017 requires the ECP to publish an annual report about its activities within 90 days after the end of a calendar year and send it to the federal government and each provincial government. The respective governments are legally obliged to lay the report before assemblies within 60 days after the receipt of this report.

The ECP kept its deadline and forwarded the report to governments. More than seven months have passed but the report has not been tabled. On federal level, the report submitted by the ECP is awaiting the approval from federal cabinet. A sub-committee formed for the purpose hasn’t yet cleared it, a member of the cabinet confirmed to The News. “We have given some recommendations to the ECP,” said the cabinet member requesting anonymity.

However, he clarified that recommendations are not PTI-centric as they are in benefit for all political parties. Asked to specify, the minister said he couldn’t specifically recall but they are part of the record. He said ECP high-ups were in attendance when the recommendations were forwarded. Once cleared by the sub-committee, the report has to be approved by the federal government before it is submitted in the National Assembly and Senate.

Background discussions with ECP officials said that no recommendation was submitted. There has only been one meeting held where ECP officials participated. However, it was meant for giving the presentation to the cabinet’s sub-committee about the main findings of the report. Also the fact remains, an ECP official explained, the report already contains an elaborate section on the challenges faced during the course of election along with recommendations for improvement. It has also been learnt that an ECP report on the pilot project of electronic voting of overseas Pakistanis was also submitted which has not been laid before the Parliament either.

The Annual Report 2018 where provides details of yearly activities of the ECP, it has also discussed in detail post-election review of 2018 polls which were marred in controversies relating to the rigging, collapse of Result Transmission System (RTS) and other suspicious activities occurred on the polling day. An ECP official however dismissed impression of a deliberate plan to engineer elections.

The post-election review is also a legal obligation of the ECP. Section 14 (2) and (3) of the Election Act 2017 reads: “The Commission shall carry out the post-election review of implementation of the Action Plan to ascertain short-comings, if any, with suggestions to further improve the electoral system . . . The Commission shall include the post-election review in its next annual report under Section 16 and publish on its website.”

As the annual report and post-election review findings have not been tabled in the Parliament, the ECP is hesitant to upload it on the website, said an ECP official when asked the reason behind not publishing on the website.

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