ISLAMABAD: A lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) surprised many on Friday by saying that instilling democracy within political parties, including his own, is a huge challenge.
Sher Ali Arbab, PTI’s MNA from Peshawar, was the one who had the courage to candidly concede that there was dearth of democracy within political parties. He was speaking at the concluding session of a national conference on electoral reforms organised by the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) here. Mr Arbab agreed with a proposal that the party ticket holder and office-bearer should not be the same.
Former Senator Taj Haider of the Pakistan Peoples Party, while speaking on the occasion, also said he was in favour of credible intra-party elections.
He said that the armed forces should have no role in the electoral process. He said an amendment to the Constitution, if needed, could be made to meet the purpose.
Arbab agrees with proposal that party ticket holder and office-bearer should not be the same
He also criticised politicians for giving so much importance to the army chief. He recalled an event where Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered an address in 2015. He said he counted as many as 83 lawmakers shaking hands with the then army chief, retired Gen Raheel Sharif. He said the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and two other services chiefs were also present there.
Mr Haider said the ECP enjoyed unlimited powers under Article 218 of the Constitution to ensure holding of free, fair and transparent elections and wondered as to why it did not proceed against those who created hurdles in the way of fair polls.
He questioned the authenticity of the census carried out before the 2018 general elections, pointing out that the population of Karachi dropped by over five million in five years, if the head count was to be believed.
The PPP leader said 24th amendment to the Constitution had been supported by the opposition on the condition of audit of five per cent census blocks, but regretted that the promise had never been fulfilled. He said general elections to be held would not be covered by the 24th Amendment and a fresh census would have to be conducted. He also asked the ECP to explain if the 74,000 unsigned forms-45 were a legal document.
Hafiz Hamdullah of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, who had recently been declared as an alien by Nadra, in his speech termed the 2018 general elections the biggest electoral fraud, claiming that the ECP had no role to play in the exercise. He alleged that the results had been changed in the darkness of night.
He said a political party had been formed in Balochistan before the elections and added that everybody knew who formed, sponsored and made the party win elections and get its man elected chief minister of the province.
He claimed that according to Nadra, 52,000 unverified votes had been detected in a constituency in Balochistan, with many of them bearing foot thumbprints.
He also criticised the politicians who, he said, sold their conscience and took decisions under pressure. He referred to the no-trust motion against the Senate chairman where as many as 14 senators from the opposition cheated their leadership.
He said the political parties should also have democracy within and stressed that there should be no room for turncoats in parliament.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2019