ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday approved a draft of electoral reforms for effective legislation to curb rigging in the upcoming general elections and ensure transparency and credibility of the polls.
The commission at its meeting approved to enhance monetary penalty for illegal and corrupt practices side by side enhancing the nomination fee for the candidates of National and Provincial Assemblies.
“Draft reforms package will be sent to the Law division for proper legislation,” DG Elections Sher Afghan informed media representatives at a news conference.
He said the commission also approved registration of 11 new political parties while elections symbols were allotted to 16 already registered parties including the party of renowned nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Earlier, during its meeting chaired by the Chief Election Commissioner Justice (Retd) Fakharuddin G Ibrahim, the ECP had decided to increase the nomination fee for National Assembly candidates from Rs 4,000 to Rs 50,000 and for provincial assemblies candidates from Rs 2,000 to Rs 25,000.
The Special Committee of the Senate on Election Issues has already agreed to the proposal and after the approval of the Commission it will be sent to the Parliament for legislation.
The ECP also decided to increase the fine money for corrupt practices to Rs 100,000 from existing Rs 5,000 fine money.
These practices include impersonation, capturing of polling stations, bribery to voters and election staff and intimidation etc. Imprisonment for such violations will continue to be three years.
Similarly for illegal practices inside the polling stations jurisdiction, the fine money has been proposed to be enhanced to Rs 100,000 from the existing Rs 5,000.
Moreover, a proposal has also been adopted to make Code of Conduct part of the Representation of the Peoples Act and the candidates will have to face a penalty of Rs 100,000 for violation of the provisions.
“For all these provisions, legislation would be required and the draft of reforms is being sent to Law Division for necessary legislation through the Parliament,” DG Elections told the media.
The commission meeting also discussed the issue of dual nationality and noted that 12 dual nationality holder parliamentarians had already been disqualified while 16 had resigned.
As no action was taken against those who had resigned, the ECP decided to submit the list of all 28 parliamentarians with the Supreme Court for further action.
Regarding a letter by AWP President Abid Hassan Manto proposing several electoral reforms, the DG Elections said that all these proposed steps needed proper legislation. Therefore, he said, it was decided to send these to the law division and whatever legislation the parliament will make, the ECP will implement it.
Rs 5.099 billion sought for conducting polls
The ECP has also sought a supplementary grant worth Rs 5.099 billion from the federal government for conducting the upcoming general elections for the national and provincial assemblies.
Minister for Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Farooq H Naek informed the Senate in a written reply on Wednesday that this amount would be spent on holding general elections under different heads.
According to the break-up of the proposed expenditures, Rs 1.259 billion have been sought for proposed expenditure on election allowance and diet charges; Rs 21 million for casual telephones of DROs and ROs; Rs 87.500 million for improvisation of polling stations; Rs 480 million for transportation of election material; Rs 16.596 million for allocation to DROs and ROs for office stationery; Rs 450 million for publicity charges; Rs 90 million for honoraria to the employees of ECP; Rs 148 million for procurement of election material; Rs 76,880,000 for PCSIR-indelible ink; Rs 215 million for procurement and transportation of ballot boxes and voting screen; Rs one billion for printing of ballot papers, forms, envelops, poster and placard etc; Rs 500 million for allocation to Army; Rs 750 million for allocation to ECP and PECs; and Rs five million for training of DROs and Returning Officers.