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Govt, PTI trade proposals for electoral reforms

Published Sep 05, 2014 06:14am

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The two sides have only agreed broadly to electoral reforms and establishing a judicial commission.— File photo by Tanveer Shahzad
The two sides have only agreed broadly to electoral reforms and establishing a judicial commission.— File photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: The dreaded ‘D’ word was back on Thursday evening when a key member of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) negotiating team dispelled an impression that the party was about to seal a deal with the government and end the political stalemate.

“The two sides have only agreed broadly to our proposal of electoral reforms and establishing a judicial commission. There is no further progress on the rest of our demands,” Dr Arif Alvi told Dawn.

He made these remarks after the working paper prepared by his party had been made public.

A quick read of the eight-page working paper makes it clear that finding the much hoped middle ground will not be easy.

Also read: Govt, PTI in fresh bid to end deadlock

For instance, the PTI wants new legislation for the setting up of a supreme judicial commission (SJC) with exclusive powers.

The PTI wants the commission to have the power to investigate, prosecute and pass a binding judgment for the contesting parties — the government and PTI.

The primary function of the SJC will be to “undertake an independent investigation into the allegations of PTI regarding rigging or manipulation of the 2013 elections and based on its investigation to submit within 30 days, a legally binding and enforceable final report”.

In order to be able to investigate the party has suggested that the SJC be helped by a joint investigation committee (JIC) comprising officials from FIA, Nadra, ECP, ISI, MI and IB. This committee will work as the investigative arm of the SJC.

Senior lawyers are agreed that these suggestions will require legislation.

“It appears to be a new idea that will require a constitutional amendment,” said S.M. Zafar, former law minister and seasoned constitutional expert and Supreme Court lawyer when told about the proposal.

He explained that at present the investigation of rigging during elections rested with the Election Commission of Pakistan, which too could not entertain pleas on the issue after a certain period of time.

His views were endorsed in a way by Dr Alvi who admitted that the two sides were heading for tough negotiations as they tried to finalise the terms of reference of the proposed SJC.

He said that the PTI was not willing to simply rest the matter after agreeing to a commission as in recent times the findings of commissions on memogate and the media did not provide any conclusive solutions.

However, the PTI’s proposals do not end at ensuring a watertight commission, which according to the paper will investigate 30 constituencies that will be identified by the PTI.

Defining the evidence

They go much further – the party has also explained in detail what would be considered evidence that would be enough to prove rigging.

Here the party has suggested that bias on the party of any ECP official; omissions or malpractices of district returning officers; returning officers; unauthorised transfer or postings of government officials; last-minute changes in location of polling stations; delays in the consolidation or notification of results; stuffing of ballot boxes, eleventh-hour changes in polling schemes; Nadra’s failure to verify voters’ thumb impression can all constitute as proof of rigging.

There is no doubt that if these proposals are accepted and investigations carried out under such stringent rules, it may prove difficult to give a green chit to the result of any controversial constituency.

What comes next?

The working paper adds that if such ‘rigging’ is proven the prime minister will have to recommend the dissolution of the assemblies and new elections held.

In fact, it is because of this set of recommendations relating to the aftermath of the investigations that the PTI has suggested that the rigging issue is examined in two phases.

In first phase, the powerful SJC carries out the investigations and in the second (once the rigging is established) the PM will resign; assemblies will be dissolved; electoral reforms carried out; an impartial caretaker set-up established with the consensus of all parties; resignation of all the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP); and hold all those accountable under Article 6 of the Constitution who allegedly helped rig the 2013 general elections.

In this second phase, the SJC is supposed to ensure that all of the above is carried out.

According to another significant proposal, the PTI wants to have Supreme Monitoring Council (SMC) for the interim period (after the government and assemblies are sent home) which shall act as the primary forum for settlement of any and all disputes, disagreement or deadlocks between the PTI and PML-N or between the PTI or and the executive authorities.

But despite this tall – very tall – order, Dr Alvi insisted that his party had shown flexibility by backtracking on its two key demands – the immediate resignation of the prime minister and the immediate dissolution of the assemblies.

“Instead, we suggested that he go on a month’s leave till the judicial commission completes its election probe and the assemblies stay intact. And the latter will allow the PML-N to remain a majority ruling party of the house.”

Late at night, hours after the proposal of the PTI was made public, the government said it had prepared a detailed reply after taking the parliamentary party leaders into confidence. This reply, the government said, had been sent to the PTI leadership.

The reply was presented by Senator Ishaq Dar to the PTI leadership, said the government. The PTI has asked for a day to respond to it.

Talking to Dawn, Asad Umar, another PTI negotiator, said that the party would discuss the government response on Friday.

PTI General Secretary Jahangir Tareen told a television channel that the two sides would meet on Friday.

When asked, Federal Minister retired Lt Abdul Qadir Baloch didn’t share any details of the response though he said it had been sent to PTI.

Gen Qadir is part of the government team holding negotiations with PTI.

However, a government source, privy to the preparation of the reply told Dawn, “I don’t know how the two sides are going to bridge this gap, because currently they are still poles apart.”

The prime minister continues to solicit support

The prime minister had an hour-long meeting with the heads of parliamentary parties and took them into confidence about the government’s talks with the PTI.

In the morning, he also met the six-member peace Jirga led by Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq.

Siraj’s Mission Impossible

In the evening the JI emir, after meeting the PPP leader of the opposition Syed Khursheed Shah, said the two sides (government and PTI) had to move fast as no-one could afford any more delays.

He said that both sides wanted the six-member peace Jirga present when they met on Friday.

Late at night there were some unconfirmed reports of a meeting between PTI Chairman Imran Khan and the JI emir at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa house. However, it wasn’t possible to confirm this.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2014

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Comments (42) Closed



zobia khan Sep 05, 2014 07:17am

So where is TUQ in all of this?

khu Sep 05, 2014 07:41am

TUQ has separate agreement, they will focus on Model town incident & Shahbaz sharif

Naeem Qureshi Sep 05, 2014 07:41am

IK is an arrogant power hungry person. It is not about rigging it is about becoming PM regardless of the cost to the country. He is hiding his failures in KP. I had high hopes for him. I am so disappointed that he worst than the others

During 2013 election NS was not in power. How could he manage rigging is beyond me.The international observers declared the 2013 elections credible and fair. There is always some rigging in election even in USA. It is how did it effect the results that is important.

Syed Sep 05, 2014 07:49am

Excellent. This is the power of educated class that PTI represents. Very nice PTI. you rock!!

Nerry Sep 05, 2014 07:55am

TUQ will go home to canada in his container

FA Sep 05, 2014 07:58am

Rigging evidence list suggests how bogus is the claim of rigging elections. By this standard Imran's own election will also qualify as rigging. There is some chance of rigging in every election even in most advanced democratic countries. The re-polling is done only if the rigging is done to the extent that it impacts the outcome of the election-and in that particular district.

These demands are an other proof of Imran's personal motive and altered ego to become Prime Minister by all means necessary, even if it means destabilization of the country..

Rajab Ali Sep 05, 2014 08:04am

When all the parliamentarians have been saying at a single voice to save PM from forced resignation, which is a key issue, and the ministers continue poisoning the atmosphere with senseless statements, would the same people be able to cut any deal to end the crisis!

sami Sep 05, 2014 08:05am

Powerful PMLn and bureaucracy are not going to accept this strict investigation. It will expose them badly.

rizwan Sep 05, 2014 08:11am

what a mess.

Jawad Sep 05, 2014 08:14am

Seems fair deal. Supreme JC with all the powers needed to do unbiased investigation with the binding contract between two party's. Assemblies don't have to get dissolved initially until the report of SJC. NS may not however agree to it mainly because of binding part of it. Might as well resign now in the name of democracy to scoresome political points. Because if the report proves rigging he will have to dissolve the assemblies then. One part I like is to investigate the ECP. If it is proven that they were part of it--- they should be maken example of so next time people should think twice before getting involved in stealing people's votes. ( no matter how many)

syed Sep 05, 2014 08:17am

@zobia khan gone to Canada.

naz Sep 05, 2014 08:24am

@zobia khan -----I don't think it will work-------------they are just trying to separate TUQ and IK to break their strength.

Ahmed USA Sep 05, 2014 08:27am

Negotiations would not solve anything until whole system of people's representation and governance is changed...It is high time that will of the people of Pakistan should prevail

shehryar khan Sep 05, 2014 08:31am

Every day which passes PTI is loosing it's support in KPK. We will not vote u again IK. We tried ANP it failed, we gave PTI a chance it has also failed. Next elections Siraj ul Haq will be the CM of KPK.

shahid Sep 05, 2014 08:34am

This is excellent proposal by PTI to the Government and they should accept it. Why they are poles apart? If the government does not accept these conditions that simply means they are confirming they came into power based on rigging only. Great idea of disclosing the PTI proposal document to the media. I am sure PMLN must have felt huge pressure from this tactic. I hope in the next few days PTI thoroughly propagates its proposals in the media.

Aftab Alam Khan Sep 05, 2014 08:43am

If contents of working paper are implemented there will be a new Government. Will the tired PM like to step down in this way. What are going to be happened, it must be done immediately as I have no further stamina to sit before the TV and watch all these tamashas.

Talha Sep 05, 2014 08:53am

The depth of the PTI demands tells that they are genuinely serious about this. Perhaps the details are strict but we need that because if there is no strict guideline then even if the commission finds rigging there might be no action. I think that PTI demands are reasonable and should be accepted immediately.

lahori Sep 05, 2014 08:57am

If this acceptable by PMLN, PTI is on the winning side. In my opinion noora group will not agree on it, this is a very good trap by PTI. It is more powerful than resignation. Go Imran go. Pakistan zindabad

buzz Sep 05, 2014 08:57am

I can't find ANYTHING wrong with this paper. Let's see what lame excuse the PMLN can come up with even if PTI backs down from the PMS resignation/leave.

Mahmood Alvi Sep 05, 2014 09:21am

PTI has acted like an enemy of the country. Imran khan has done enormous damage to the country. He will never get my vote. Shame on you. Government must finish the term. Then decide in next election. Most of the country is behind Nawaz.

hussain684 Sep 05, 2014 09:23am

If the government perceives to be legitimate winner of elections, the PTI proposals should be accepted. The PTI proposal requires legislation...so it should be done. Assemblies are meant for legislation in the larger interest of state andafter all it is opportunity to prove their legitimacy.

lahori Sep 05, 2014 09:31am

@zobia khan Qadri will follow PTI, but in my opinion shahbaz resignation satisfy PAT. Imran and Qadri are on the same page one fighting on papers and one fighting with dandas. Pakistan zindabad

Ahmad Sep 05, 2014 10:49am

This is ironic that Government could have avoided all of this if it had agreed to open up investigation on 4 seats Imran has been asking. Why it takes dharnas, marches and sit ins to get the go ahead of government.

zia Ul Hassan Sep 05, 2014 10:55am

@zobia khan he is dreaming and soon he get up with a new u trun

Hannan Sep 05, 2014 11:00am

Why not put independent international auditors? I think if PTI will b able to form a powerful investigation committee, they should backtrack from resignation. Let's resolve the deadlock and being PTI fan I'll b happy that my leader has shaken up the system and given a wake up to govt.

amjad Sep 05, 2014 11:18am

i think pti's stance is very good for democracy. The points mentioned in pti draft are very good. If the gov. does not accept these then gov. should go home because all of these are within the constitution.

Napier Mole Sep 05, 2014 12:08pm

PTI performance in KPK had not exactly been sterling so far and with the provinicial government working in self imposed exile from Islamabad, situation in KPK is only going to worsen. PTI's MPAs from KPK must be cursing their leadership for taking them into this wild goose chase.

aziz ahmed nawazz Sep 05, 2014 12:25pm

PTI suggestions would strengthen democracy in Pakistan, why don't the people sitting in parliament back these proposals instead of making derogatory speeches. Anyone can see this is the way forward so why not adopt and add to any suggestions from PTI

Rashid Ishaq Sep 05, 2014 12:32pm

@zobia khan TUQ on the other hand, is planning for what and where to storm now; he doesn't want to begin or end any kind of negotiations

M J Syed Sep 05, 2014 01:10pm

IK what a wonderful idea. Now all we have to do is to prey to The Almighty to send some angels to be the members of the Supreme Judicial Council. That still leaves the problem as to who will chair it?

Mira Sep 05, 2014 01:13pm

@Naeem Qureshi

Give it a rest. No one believes you.

M J Syed Sep 05, 2014 01:15pm

It is no longer possible to defend IK and retain one's sanity. I am beginning to feel that government is making a mistake by giving too much importance to a man who has taken leave of his senses. Should, however, there a scripted agenda of the higher power, them I am afraid there not a great deal this or any other government can do.

Mira Sep 05, 2014 01:17pm

@shehryar khan

No one needs you.

M J Syed Sep 05, 2014 01:17pm

These Outlandish Proposals would not work even in Camelot or Utopia. Are these people for real?

SFQ Sep 05, 2014 01:36pm

@Naeem Qureshi Must you be reminded that the care taker government prior to the elections consisted of PML N sympathisers? Must you also be reminded the composition of the provincial government that ruled Punjab for 5 years? If election reforms and the implementation of such reforms allow a free, fair and transparent election, how is it about IK or any individual becoming PM? Unless, you are suggesting that free and fair elections will make him PM and that is his selfish agenda. If that is the secret you are trying to reveal then you may be right. IK is so selfish and so devious that he wishes to take away rigging from us and bring us free and fair elections just to make his selfish agenda of becoming PM true.

Taimoor Khan Sep 05, 2014 01:57pm

@Naeem Qureshi You are very conveniently forgetting that NS or PML-N was in power even back in 2013. That is in Punjab and after 18th amendment provenience have got many powers. The heart of the problem is Punjab with regards to election as whoever wins Punjab, wins the election at national level. Have you not noticed how PML-N is no where to be seen in other three provinces?

Hasnain Sep 05, 2014 02:19pm

Why 30 constituencies then? PTI will talk only about Punjab; what about KPK then? Saad Rafique was right on this point, if you want to test the elections we will open 4 constituencies of your demand; but 4 will be given by us! PTI isn't clean too, no one is!

jake Sep 05, 2014 03:25pm

@Naeem Qureshi Imran Khan made a big mistake of dharna to topple the government, he should have asked MQM to join in as they can shut Karachi and Hydrabad in just 10 min. Every government had been toppled when Karachi is locked completely. A leader is who is listened to in pin drop silence and a quality of AH is he can control the crowd.

Ishaq Sep 05, 2014 03:58pm

Why IK is not afraid of these investigation, may be has has a will to change the electoral process, even though he can also be guilty but still he is committed with reforms.

Iqbal Sep 05, 2014 04:19pm

If PMLn was not ready even for four constituencies how far that would be ready for overhauling and exposing the last election. They will present lame excuses to hide and prolong their fake mandat. However well done PTI for such detailed and in-depth home work for elections reforms which may prove a better step in conducting future elections.

PATRIORT Sep 05, 2014 06:12pm

PTI has taken a big step backward. Now the ball is in Nawaz Shreef court to prove his sincerity. The demand by PTI are fair by all standards. If PML-N has nothing to hide, it should accept the challenge and come back into the assemblies with bigger majority.

This will ensure fair and free elections which is the back bone of true democracy.

Well done PTI. PML-N prove your honesty.

Nilor Khan Sep 05, 2014 08:25pm

Nawaz will never agree to it, by doing so he will be signing on his political death.