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ISLAMABAD, (SANA): Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency – PILDAT has welcomed the reports that the newly-constituted Election Commission of Pakistan has decided to take concrete steps towards banning holders of the nationality of a foreign country from contesting the next General Election.
PILDAT has demanded that, in addition, the ECP should initiate the formal process for candidates in the next General Election to declare if they hold the status of permanent residence, such as the US green card, in any country other than Pakistan. Such public declaration and the availability of this information to public and media through the ECP website, ahead of the day of General Election, will be greatly helpful to the voters in deciding about the suitability of a candidate in the election.
PILDAT also pointed out that the Nomination Form as provided under the Representation of People Act requires the declaration of useful information about a candidate such as the Educational Qualification, List of criminal cases, amount of income tax and land revenue paid and Statement of Assets and Liabilities of the Candidate, etc. This information is meant for voters to enable them to make informed choices about their representatives in the Election. Unfortunately this wealth of information remains largely buried in the files of returning officers as the procedure to obtain this information is complex and time-consuming. This defeats the very purpose for which such declarations are made by the candidates in accordance with the law.
PILDAT urged the ECP to post all such declarations on the ECP website before Election Day, so that these are available in time to general public, media and, above all, to voters. The addition of a column about foreign nationality and permanent residential statement in a foreign country in the declaration part of the Nomination Forms will greatly enhance the usefulness of these declarations, PILDAT added.
PILDAT also urged the Government of Pakistan to expeditiously pass the required legislation in this regard as recommended by the ECP in order to create a comprehensive mechanism to implement the constitutional provisions such as article 63-1(c) which disqualifies a person from becoming or being a member of the Parliament who holds or becomes a foreign national, and to operationalise the decision of the ECP in this regard.
As an indigenous think tank, established with the focus of strengthening and supporting democracy and democratic institutions, run by Pakistani citizens and supported by eminent Pakistanis from all walks of life, PILDAT has been working to suggest electoral reforms and a strict implementation of laws by the Election Commission of Pakistan, to ensure free, fair and credible elections. When electoral reforms are discussed in Pakistan, generally, political parties and other stakeholders complain of lack of powers and independence of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as the key institution constitutionally charged with the responsibility of holding free and fair elections.
PILDAT feels that especially after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, it is not the constitutional powers of the ECP that hold it back, but it is the lack of effective use of those powers that makes the ECP suffer from deficit of trust in the Pakistani society. The bold decisions such as the one regarding the foreign nationalities of the intending parliamentarians will go a long way in enhancing the credibility of the ECP, PILDAT stressed.
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