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Polls: scrutiny measures for candidates

April 19, 2013

ONE necessary part of the candidates’ scrutiny process to probe the submission of taxes commensurate with income and assets could not achieve the required attention.

Candidates running for upcoming elections had to pass the austere test of Article 62. Many candidates were thrown out as they could not come up to the basic qualifications given in the aforesaid article.

A great many contestants have not made public the actual position of their assets and the true sources of income. Even many big guns whose financial status is obvious to all pay only tidbits in the form of taxes. Ironically some of the known millionaires do not have even National Tax Numbers.

For instances, Faryal Talpur of the PPP has paid only less than Rs300,000 against the income of Rs22 million. The figure of tax paid by her husband, a landlord, is no more than Rs100,000 on an income of Rs8.6 million.

A former foreign minister, whose expensive dressing and handbags had attained fame worldwide, also pays a measly amount of tax. Overall, tax statements of all candidates are unsatisfactory.

The solution lies in a sound strategy having two aims; first, to prevent tax defaulters from being elected as members of parliament by outlawing them and, second to recover taxes. The Election Commission of Pakistan should form investigation teams to inquire into the sources of income and assets of candidates.

These teams can also be entrusted with the task of ensuring election expenditures under the limits prescribed by the ECP. They should be kept free from any influence and pressure by maintaining secrecy.

After investigations are complete, they should make a report on every candidate, and this report must be made public inasmuch as the ball is no more in the court of returning officers. Now it is the public which is to decide.

Any discrepancy in the payment of taxes would reflect on the credibility of the contestants. Besides the above mentioned measures, taxes not paid must be recovered as early as possible.

ABUBAKAR BHEEL Lahore Secretary, Rural Development Organisation, Pakistan     Lahore

Augean stables

YOUR editorial ‘Depressing figures: taxes paid by politicians’ (April 15) truly represents the views of large numbers of overseas and most urban Pakistanis.

None of these players in the great game of democracy has been disqualified or debarred from contesting the elections by the ECP under Article 63, despite the much-trumpeted claims of ‘merciless’ scrutiny of nomination papers.

In the myopic eyes of returning officers and the ECP, these very players are the ones who are going to rescue Pakistan from the barbarity of religious militancy and the dangers of a sinking economy.

I wonder how these power-hungry and nouveau riche loan defaulters and tax evaders, who are more concerned about their grandeur, as well as personal security, will serve the interest of the common man?

Unless the Augean Stables are scrupulously cleaned, Pakistan will not be able to become a prosperous country.

SYED AHMED     Canada

Religious parties

THIS is apropos a news item, ‘ECP bans seeking vote on religious, sectarian grounds’ (April 15).

One has the right to ask the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) why it has allowed parties with religious and sectarian names and manifesto to contest in the elections.

Moreover, three of the main political parties — the PPP, ANP and MQM — have been threatened by the militants to be attacked during the election campaign and the incidents during the past weeks have proved their intentions to be true. On the other hand, the remaining parties will have the advantage of carrying out a fear-free campaign thus creating a disparity among the contestants.

Moreover, our security agencies do not have sufficient manpower to provide a foolproof security to all the election gatherings taking place in the country. Would it not be advisable for the ECP to ban the election campaign through public meetings and processions?

It would not only ensure the security of life and property of the public but it would also provide equal opportunities for all the contesting parties.