ISLAMABAD: Speaking at a seminar on Thursday, Senator Sherry Rehman called for timely election reforms in the country.

“Reforms are needed to ensure that the next election is transparent and the situation of last year, when the Constitution Avenue was paralysed for 126 days, is not repeated,” she said.

The seminar, “Pakistan: democratic and economic challenges post 2015” was organised by the Jinnah Institute at a local hotel.

Senator Rehman said the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) termed the 2013 general elections the ‘returning officers’ elections.

She highlighted the importance of holding public representatives accountable and increasing women’s participation in the democratic process.

Talking to mediapersons, she said the PPP never discouraged the strengthening of political forces in the country.

“We believe that political forces should be strengthened and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) should play its due role in the parliament,” she said.

Responding to a query, she said Pakistan should facilitate and support Afghanistan instead of becoming a guarantor.

She said the self-styled Islamic State was becoming active in Afghanistan and “we should not expect conclusive development in the dialogue because it is an ongoing process.”

Centre for Civic Education executive director Zafarullah Khan said the current political system had been designed for the elite class.

“However, it is the first time in Pakistan’s history that electoral reform is being considered with seriousness. While the 18th amendment, in part, tried to democratise the election commission it is time to move on and work towards the next generation of electoral reform,” he said.

Columnist and analyst Zahid Hussain said while allegations of pre-poll rigging had been rejected, irregularities in the post-election process had been emphasised by the Judicial Commission.

He said a system cannot work if it was not accountable. He said census should also be held as soon as possible.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2015

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