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Public representation and qualification

April 24, 2013

THE phenomenon of public representation occupies a pivotal role in a democratic and parliamentary form of government. The right to be elected is an important political right ensuring the participation of individuals in the political process of the country.

Right to elect and right to be elected are somehow relative and complementary to each other.

Therefore, denial of the right to be elected in a way amounts to disenfranchising them. At present, the qualifications required for public representation in any country are simple and almost uniform all over the world.

In this regard the universal rule of general qualifications requires the individual to be an adult citizen of the country in which he intends to be a public representative. This rule is observed all over the world, including the democratic countries like the US, the UK, France, Canada, Australia and India.

In the form of Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution Pakistan has perhaps the most exhaustive and extensive pre-conditions for a person to qualify as a member of parliament.

As a matter of state policy, Pakistan recognises the right of dual citizenship but the constitution bars dual nationals from being a member of the parliament. Likewise, despite massive illiteracy in the country there had been the graduation pre-condition for the same in the past.

A person once convicted by a competent court is considered to be innocent having undergone his punishment.

Barring a previous convict from contesting election is against the rules of natural justice. Loan defaulters and tax evaders should be apprehended and dealt with according to the law of the land instead of raising these objections at the time of filing nomination papers.

No unnecessary restrictions should be placed on the individual’s right to be elected and this matter should be left to the electors with whom the sovereignty rests.


PML-N and party tickets

THE manner in which the PML-N has distributed its party tickets has shocked many among their sympathisers. I thought Nawaz Sharif had his fingers on the pulse of the people who want a change in reality, not just in rhetoric.

But it has shocked many when majority of tickets were awarded to family members, especially tickets for reserved seats for women. Politics should be about voluntary public service, not jugglery, where members of same family have all their risks covered by having their family members conveniently spread across all the leading political parties.

The PML-N could have created a precedent by awarding reserved seats to those educated women whose fathers or grandfathers had rendered valuable services in freedom movement in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa before 1947, instead of giving to sycophants or nonentities, who can contribute nothing but just fill in the numbers game.

This has sent a very wrong message and does not bode well for Nawaz Sharif and his party. Instead of diversifying the party base, it is the same old faces, mostly members of the Kashmiri clan who in the past 15 years have had their assets rise astronomically with absolutely none of them paying taxes proportionate to their extravagant lifestyles.

Is it just a coincidence that most of those given tickets are either Khawajas, Dars, Butts and Lones?


Peace for polls

This is with reference to your editorials titled ‘Expanse of threat’ and ‘A chance for democracy’ (April 17).

You are perfectly right that a peaceful atmosphere must prevail all over the country during the entire period between now and till a few days after May 11 in order to allow candidates to campaign for their causes and to reach out to the voters without fear.

You are also right that it is really lamentable for political leaders other than those from ANP, PPP and MQM to only issue lukewarm statements condemning the attacks on politicians, candidates and workers resulting in some fatalities and casualties, particularly in Sindh, Balochistan and KP.

I do not think there is a rough and ready answer to the situation but it has to be resolved at any cost. I would suggest that the caretaker prime minister must immediately call a meeting of prominent leaders of all leading parties to which all heads of police, rangers, frontier constabulary and all others concerned, and, of course, the army should be requested to attend for their input.

The whole matter should be discussed threadbare in that meeting and sorted out in an amicable manner. The meeting must also find out ways and means and to implement them, for security of all leaders, contenders for election, those coming to cast votes and of the polling stations and staff.