Fafen says amending Elections Act without consensus jeopardises future elections

Hassan NaqviReporter

11th Sep, 2021. 08:56 pm

LAHORE: Any effort to amend the Elections Act, 2017 without a larger political consensus put the legitimacy of future elections at stake, and may cause political instability that can potentially reverse the process of democratic consolidation in Pakistan, said the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in a press statement on Saturday.

FAFEN said that it is concerned by the “imbroglio between the government and the opposition parties” which it said was a counter-narrative of the democratic traditions and practices.

“Despite political fragmentation, political parties had developed a consensus on electoral reforms in 2017 after three years of rigorous consultations under the aegis of a multi-party parliamentary committee,” recalled Fafen. It also called on the government to uphold such practices as a way forward on critical amendments to the election law.

The pressure group said that the responsibility of achieving consensus on such amendments rests with the federal government.

“The government and political parties should not transfer the responsibility of making political decisions to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) through vague legislative decisions,” said Fafen. It also added that by dragging the ECP into such controversies the credibility of future elections and their outcomes are being undermined.

“The parliament should rather invest in strengthening the capacities of the ECP through definite legislative measures and appropriate financial resources,” said the organisation. It added that diverting “unnecessary criticism” on the ECP’s constitutional right of giving independent reviews is tantamount to disrespecting the constitution.

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