ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday said that the democratic system, without the sanctity of a ballot box could not deliver and electoral reforms are the need of the hour.

Addressing a seminar, he questioned the role of the establishment in elections and emphasised that a democratic system, where there is no sanctity of a ballot box, cannot deliver.

The seminar was organised by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) and the Coalition for Election and Democracy (CED) at a local hotel in Islamabad.

He said that there is need for electoral reforms adding that the Senate of Pakistan has “become a centre for horse trading, as some candidates have spent a lot of money to buy votes and get elected.”

He added that reserved seats for women should also be abolished, as those elected on reserved seats are not treated equally and lack representative character.

The former prime minster said that a better option would be to bind political parties to award a specific percentage of tickets to women for ensuring that they participate in political activities.

No election was transparent after 1970, he said, while talking about the right of voting for expatriates.

Mohsin Dawar, chairman of National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee talked about election engineering before election day.

He claimed that the census in our country is also tempered with, and population of certain areas has not been accurately counted.

He was of the view that each time, a new style of rigging is adopted. Senator Farhatullah Babar, in his address said that there was need to bring all government agencies within the orbit of law, adding that electoral reforms produce results until all state institutions commit towards holding free and fair elections. Senator Taj Haider, while addressing the seminar, pointed out that challenges related to census and delimitation of constituencies need to be addressed. Mukhtar Ali, Zafarullah Khan, Taha Ali, Khawar Mumtaz, Tahir Mehdi, Shabir Ahmed and others also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2022

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