ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the sub-committee of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms held in the Parliament House on Wednesday could not reach a consensus on the issue of 10 per cent mandatory participation of women in elections after the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) opposed the proposal presented by other parliamentary parties.
The JUI-F and JI stuck to their stance for only 5pc participation of women in the elections, although other parliamentary parties demanded at least 10pc participation for validation of polls.
“The parliamentary parties could not reach a consensus on the issue of women’s voting,” Shazia Marri, a member of the committee, told reporters after an in-camera meeting.
According to the Election Reforms Package and the Election Act, 2017, it has been proposed that at least 10pc participation of women voters should be made mandatory for elections.
In case of less than 10pc participation of women in the elections in any constituency, the proposal says, the Election Commission of Pakistan should have the right to order re-election for the seat.
No consensus reached on the issue in reforms body meeting
Talking to Dawn, JI leader Tariq Ullah said his party had some reservations on 10pc mandatory participation of women voters in elections. “One should not be forced to take part in polls, especially women,” he said.
He said that other issues were also discussed in the meeting, including MNAs’ development funds and fee for contesting polls.
He said no decision had been taken on the issue of overseas Pakistani voters and biometric and e-voting systems.
“Most members of the committee have demanded that overseas Pakistanis be given the right to vote,” he said.
Referring to biometric and e-voting systems, he said the committee had been informed that the Election Commission required a hefty amount of Rs40-50 billion to introduce them.
Talking to reporters, the chairman of the sub-committee, Law Minister Zahid Hamid, said that 24 organisations and institutions had submitted 600 recommendations before the committee.
“The sub-committee will review these recommendations and present its report to the main committee,” he said.
The minister claimed that no restriction was being imposed on election observers and media.
“All fears of Fafen and other observers regarding restrictions on elections observers and media are baseless,” he said.
Recently, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) presented its election reforms package and demanded complete financial and administrative independence of the ECP to ensure that the next general elections were held in a better and more transparent manner in May 2018.
The PTI has also demanded that the budget of the ECP should be one-line budget on the pattern of financial autonomy of the Supreme Court and rules of the ECP should not be made by the government; rather the commission should have complete administrative autonomy to make its own rules and regulations for elections.
Published in Dawn February 16th, 2017