AS the date of the general election draws near, doubts are increasingly being raised whether the polls would be fair. Here are some in circulation:

— A lot of anxiety was expressed about the selection of an independent chief election commissioner. The appointment of Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim has relieved that anxiety. However, the elections are to be conducted by the election commission and not by the chief election commissioner alone.

Unfortunately, the four members of the commission have not inspired the same degree of trust about their neutrality among the people and the political parties as Mr Ebrahim did. Three members opposing him would carry the day.

— The caretaker prime minister has to be chosen in consultation with the leaders of the house and the opposition. The emerging political forces, such as Imran Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf, would surely question this privilege of the PPP and the PML-N to their exclusion.

— Some serious questions have been raised about the accuracy of the voters’ lists and delimitation of constituencies which could not possibly be resolved in time for the polls.

The legality of some changes made by Gen (Rtd) Musharraf in the electoral laws in the dying days of his power is still awaiting determination in superior courts.The political forces of the country, the government officials and the election commission must huddle together to attend to these and many other uncertainties to take care of delay or irregularities in polls and to avoid the consequent chaos and extra-constitutional intervention.

KUNWAR IDRIS Karachi

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