It was supposed to be a process of scrutiny of every election hopeful who’s submitted his/her nomination papers to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

What it seems to have deteriorated into, however, is a witch-hunt comprising Returning Officers out to humiliate politicians on questions of religion, personal life and even their appearance.

The main justification being provided for these interrogations are article 62 and article 62 of the Constitution – articles which did not exist in the original 1973 Constitution and were inserted by the military dictator Ziaul Haq.

Article 62, for one, explains the criterion of “qualifications for member of Majlis-i-Shoora (parliament)” and its clause (e) reads: “He has adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from major sins.”The clauses also call for candidates to be ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’ (honest and righteous) – names given to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Many argue, however, that one’s faith and knowledge of religion cannot be gauged by questions asked by elections staff, who in turn may themselves not be qualified according to the very standards they have set. Members of civil society have also strongly spoken out against the scrutiny techniques.

In addition, election officials have also taken the opportunity to embarrass female candidates – one candidate, Tayyaba Sohail Cheema, was asked to show her face to everyone because she “seemed so much younger” than her actual age. Another candidate’s husband was told how his family life will be ruined because of his wife’s involvement in politics.

Now, candidates are being rejected left, right and centre as a result. Ayaz Amir, the PML-N candidate for NA-60 and a renowned journalist, was rejected based purely on an opinion expressed in a news column which was alleged to be against the ‘ideology of Pakistan’.

Others too have been rejected, such as Faisal Saleh Hayat on allegations of water theft – but many are questioning how this can be done without proof.

Many, however, are glad to see people they see as ‘looters of the country’ facing their come uppance, so to speak.

What view do you agree with? Do aspiring contestants deserve this kind of ‘merciless scrutiny’? Or have the officials gone too far?

Moreover, even if a rigorous scrutiny process is in order, is the criterion rational? Is it right for the Returning Officers to judge who is Sadiq and Ameen?

 

 


Comments are closed.

Comments (27)

Farjam Mubarik
April 5, 2013 12:51 pm
well there is no measure to gauge the religiousness of anyone. However looters of any magnitude should not be allowed to determine our fate. just imagine a scenario where 5 candidates are contesting for same constituency and all of them are looters then what options are the voters left with? i guess the only option will be to not to vote at all.
Ahmed
April 5, 2013 12:59 pm
Deciding who is "sadiq" and "amin" is for the voters - not some government officials - to decide in elections. That is what free and fair elections are all about! Instead of protecting the hard-earned right of the Pakistani people to free and fair elections as it was charged to do, the ECP RO's have stolen this right from them. 2013 elections are being reduced to a mockery of the election process by the ECP.
fazalpai
April 5, 2013 1:55 pm
to make the issue "non serious" d.e.l.i.b.r.a.t.e.l.y.. one can see a little smile on both concerns and all around.
Shah
April 5, 2013 2:27 pm
This so called scrutiny lacks due process, if only it had been performed earlier with not so perfunctory arrangements. Furthermore "Sadiq & Ameen" are very vague standards with so much room for ambiguity.
aziz
April 5, 2013 5:03 pm
Let there be a role model of Sadiq and Ameen. I consider Mr. Zardari SADIQ and AMEEN. We should all follow his example.
Gerry D'Cunha
April 5, 2013 5:03 pm
sadiq and ameen was quaid-e-azam an liaquat ali khan - what was their 'anjam', we all know there is no place for 100% sadiq and ameen in pakistan because of our dirty politics
Guest63
April 5, 2013 5:44 pm
Question I would ask out of our (2008 to 2013 ) ex parlimentarians , WHY THE HELL they did not remove such articles which were not in the original 1973 sonstitution and as reportedly said were introduced by dictator Zia ? Why 18th amendment was passed without these articles being removed ? their own work is now being used to haunt them out of the process .... What was that good about the 18th amendment that These parlimentarians proclaimed that they have restored the original 1973 constitution ????? As so sow so shall you reap , now why cry foul when the scrutinizing officers are applying these articles to question you and reject your papers ??? WHY CRY FOUL , why do not you become a man and admit your fault (by ignoring to remove these aritcles via 18th amendment ) or perhaps you got the right price paid to keep quiet then and now are crying foul
Laeeq,NY
April 5, 2013 9:03 pm
Choice is open for the voters. They want to elect Sadiq and Ameens or they want crooked people. EC duty should be limited to check the criminal records, defaulters on bank loans and tax evaders. Having degrees could been a better option. that can bring educated people in our assemblies who can understand the world better than people with fake degrees.
Amjad Wyne
April 5, 2013 9:30 pm
What are the credentials of the returning officers? Who certified them as Sadiq and Ammen? This is what happens when there in no common sense left.
Zubair
April 5, 2013 9:52 pm
Are members of our judiciary Sadiq and Ameen? This is the most corrupt institution in Pakistan.
ABDUL KADER AHMED
April 6, 2013 12:34 am
You know the calibre of voters, That is why there were so many cheats and black sheep in the deceased Assembly.
Farooq Ali
April 6, 2013 4:40 am
When a building is cleaned few errors can be ignored allowing major job to be continued as the building has not been cleaned since last many years so let the process go . If somebody is not happy with the decision or objection of election commission or its officials he or she can go in appeal the doors of superior courts are wide open .
Capt C M Khan
April 6, 2013 7:29 am
"Jaissey Rooh waiseay Farishtay"......The Politicans have let us down...so what if the Returning Officers are behaving this way.
Ali Vaqar Awan
April 6, 2013 7:48 am
This approach of election comission is totally a witch hunting. Who they are to decide who is sadiq and ameen. The writer is really correct in stating that article 62 does not exist in 1973 constitution but self introduced amendent by Zial ul Haq. Religion is the personal matter of humanbeing over which no one has any right to question. It is voters who decide who is sadiq and ameen so that they are able to determine which candidate to vote for. Its totally a failure in our system to have transparent elections and even transparent scrutiny of nomination papers.
ali ahmed
April 6, 2013 9:19 am
who will decide..are the RO themselves Sadiq and Ameen?are the RO corrupt free....every bodies know lower court are the most corrupt institusion in pakistan
Gerry D'Cunha
April 6, 2013 9:47 am
ali ahmed: you are 1000% correct - who does not know the lower courts corruption - i myself was a victim at one time
khanm
April 6, 2013 10:57 am
There has never been any comedy shows as hilarious as the talk shows lately on our media. The entire saga of RO and ECP has really put Smile on our faces. Being miserable for last five years we really needed that. Indeed our politicians are comedians. They are daring this nation with their wishful act and yet have shown no remorse no resentment of any kind. … If we had no sense of humor, this nation would have committed suicide long time ago.
M. Siddique
April 6, 2013 11:49 am
Almost all well known politicians especially the out going parliamentrians are not Sadiq and Ameen. Any one have a doubt it!
gangadin
April 6, 2013 12:51 pm
What 'sadiq' and what 'amin' ? This is Pakistan. Its a hilarious situation where ever you go. Name any entity and you'll find examples of this type of behavior.
fazalpai
April 6, 2013 1:22 pm
only lower courts ???
anwar
April 6, 2013 2:34 pm
Reminds me of school masters in our villages having same degree of authority over the children. Right in front of the whole class you could have been asked anything, like why you stayed in the washroom for too long. Article 62 and 63 have been there for a while now. Why blame Zia for all this mess. Surely the fathers and uncles of our currently would be parliamentarians must also get some credit for amending the constitution at the behest of Zia. And if they have learnt their lesson, the first act of the coming parliament should be repealing Zia's amendments.
Raj
April 6, 2013 6:09 pm
People doesnt need Gita Quran Bible to be good
zia khan
April 6, 2013 7:14 pm
Zardari is Sadiq and Nawaz is Ameen. Jazakallah khair
I. Ahmed
April 7, 2013 2:16 am
If that is what constitution says then it should be implemented. Blaming RO's is like shooting the messenger. This article of constitution should have been reviewed by parliament and elaborated during last 5 years.
dialogueforpeace
April 7, 2013 2:43 am
Sadiq sahib used to teach us English and Ameen was one of my classmates.
Robin Akbar
April 7, 2013 2:48 am
Every Pakistani is corrupt otherwise they will not survive in Pakistan.
Gerry D'Cunha
April 7, 2013 10:32 am
their motto is 'make hay while the sun shine'
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