ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday issued final notices to all 352 political parties asking them to submit the list of at least 2,000 of their members and deposit enlistment fee of Rs200,000 each to it by Dec 2 or be ready to be de-listed.

A senior official of the ECP told Dawn that no political party had met the requirement under the provisions of the Elections Act, 2017.

He said the first notice had been issued on Oct 20 and a reminder had been sent to all the political parties for depositing an enlistment fee of Rs200,000 each and provide a list of at least 2,000 members along with their signatures or thumb impressions, besides copies of their computerised national identity cards.Now a final notice had been issued to them.

Each party told to submit a list of 2,000 of its members along with Rs200,000 enlistment fee

He said an advertisement had also been placed in some leading newspapers to remind the political parties of their legal obligation. He hoped that the provision in the new law would help check mushroom growth of political parties and many of the dormant parties would cease to exist by next month.

The notice reminds the parties that under the Elections Act, 2017, they are required to comply with the provisions of its Sections 201, 202, 209 and 210 within 60 days of its enforcement.

“In case an enlisted political party fails to comply with the provisions... the Election Commission of Pakistan shall cancel the enlistment of the political party under Section 202(5) of the act,” says the notice.

Under its Section 4, a political party enlisted by the commission before the commencement of the act shall be deemed to have been enlisted, provided it has filed the required documents, and if not it shall submit the documents within 60 days of the enforcement of the law, according to the notice.

Under its Section 5, if an enlisted party fails to file documents within the stipulated timeframe, the commission shall cancel its enlistment after giving it a chance to explain the reasons.

According to an ECP official, under Section 6 of the act, a party that has been refused enlistment or whose registration has been cancelled may, within 30 days of the refusal or cancellation of enlistment, file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Before the enactment of the new law, it was very easy for a few individuals to form a party, just for the sake of fun or publicity or some ulterior motives. A document prepared in a drawing room, including copied constitution and manifesto and details of the so-called intra-party elections, were the only requirements for getting a party registered, the official said.

Most of the parties don’t conduct intra-party elections; doing so is otherwise mandatory under the law, which requires that the party chief and other office-bearers of every political party shall be elected periodically in accordance with the party’s constitution through a ballot based on a democratic and transparent system.

The smaller parties are unlikely to comply with the requirement when even the major parties are seen to be holding sham elections.

Prior to the 2013 general elections, the number of parties enlisted with the ECP outnumbered the available election symbols when it climbed to 216. Currently, the number of registered political parties stands at 352.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2017