In 2013, militant and other violence marred the run-up to the election and significantly affected the campaigns of secular, liberal parties on the left
May 30, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani has written letters to key constitutional functionaries suggesting that the Election Commission of Pakistan secretary should be summoned to the Committee of the Whole to enlighten the committee on the international conspiracy regarding the upcoming general elections.
On Monday, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob, while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, said that according to his assessment, attempts can be made — at the international level — to sabotage the upcoming general elections. He also claimed that he was ready to share the details during an in-camera briefing.
In the letter, Senator Rabbani said that Mr Yaqoob’s statement cast doubts on holding the elections within 60 days. He added that it also had serious and far reaching consequences and repercussions as the secretary had referred to an international conspiracy. Therefore, in the circumstances, as a member of the only functional House of Parliament, he called upon to either persuade the government to summon a session of the Senate immediately or call meeting of the committee of the whole.
Rabbani stated that the ECP secretary should be summoned to the committee, proceedings of which may be held in-camera so that the secretary can enlighten the committee on the international conspiracy.
Meanwhile, the ECP spokesperson explained that the secretary had identified security issues. He said that the elections could only be held peacefully if all security and administrative departments would fulfill their responsibility.
Dawn in its editorial today called the ECP secretary’s remarks unwarranted and unusual and suggested the organization responsible to hold free, fair and transparent elections in the country stick to its core job and not unnecessarily stoke tensions or fears. “Now is the time for calm leadership,” it wrote.
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The editorial said: A NECESSARY and welcome briefing to a parliamentary committee was made unnecessarily controversial by some decidedly strange remarks. On Monday, in a briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Interior on security arrangements for the upcoming election, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob stated: “We think that an effort will be made at an international level to sabotage the elections but it would not be appropriate to share details here. We are ready to inform you in an in-camera meeting.” In the current regional environment and the speculative mood in parts of the country, the ECP secretary’s comments can be interpreted in a grossly exaggerated manner for partisan political and diplomatic purpose. While it is possible that Mr Yaqoob is in fact privy to intelligence that cannot be shared with the public at the moment, it is nevertheless unusual for the ECP to be sharing such information with parliament in the presence of an elected government or the caretaker government that will be sworn in shortly.
“If the ECP is privy to, has been informed of or, improbably, has itself gathered intelligence of not just the possibility of foreign interference in the upcoming general election, but violent plots to disrupt polling day, it should urgently seek the advice of the executive and the security apparatus.” it wrote.
The editorial while welcomed that the ECP is taking the issue of election-related violence seriously, it has highlighted that fact that in 2013, militant and other violence marred the run-up to the election and significantly affected the campaigns of secular, liberal parties on the left, it said.
“The 2018 general election is set to take place amidst greater political uncertainty than at virtually any other point since the transition to democracy began in 2008, while the security establishment continues to credibly warn of militants and external actors seeking to destabilize the country. For a free and fair election, there cannot be a climate of fear in the country. At the same time, the security of voters, candidates and the democratic process must also be ensured. Far better, then, for the ECP to concentrate on its core job and not unnecessarily stoke tensions or fears. Now is the time for calm leadership.”
In a related note, PILDAT — an Islamabad-based think tank focused on political and public policy research and legislative strengthening in the country claims “the pre-poll process has so far been unfair overall”.
Its “Pre-Election Assessment Report” was released on Tuesday, and was guided by scoring of members of its “Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations”. They evaluated, catalogued and carefully reviewed over 70 key developments which took place during the past one year against 11 parameters set by the think-tank.
PILDAT’s analysts claim the military is not playing ‘neutral role’ in the electoral process and media is functioning under influence of ‘the state institutions and vested interests’, report Dawn.
Several observers say upcoming polls are being held in the midst of hybrid war Pakistan’s defense and security establishment is fighting against its detractors in the wider region. Just as project democracy is moving along, so will the polls be conducted to insure continuity whatever the preceptions may be, they felt.