Abb Takk News

Ishtiaq briefs reforms committee about burnt electoral record

ISLAMABAD: Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan here on Thursday informed the Parliamentary Electoral Reforms Committee (PERC) that the material burnt in a Lahore school fire did not relate to the general election 2013.

The PERC met here at the Parliament House under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar.

Briefing the committee, Ishtiaq said: the burnt material was meant for only holding the local body elections in the provinces except Balochistan where the polls had already been held.

Replying to a query of the committee member, the secretary said that the returning officers (ROs) were selected from the judiciary on the demand of political parties.

Ishaq Dar directed the ECP to come up with suggestions to improve the existing election system in the country.

“Election Commission of Pakistan should come up with suggestions to further improve the election system in the country,” he said, adding the body had so far received about 540 suggestions from different quarters.

Initially, the Secretary ECP said, there was a plan to get services of 3,000 ROs from federal and provincial government departments, for which letters were written to them.

Dar asked the ECP Secretary to bring minutes of the meeting, held with political parties with regard to appointments of ROs, in next sitting of the committee.

The Chairman also directed the ECP to produce complete details about candidates complaints and objections against ROs and action taken by the ECP.

The Secretary said ECP had no authority to take action against ROs and in case of any complaint only their respective departments could take action against them.

To another question, the secretary said as per law ECP was bound to preserve the election material at least for one year, adding the ECP had not ordered to destroy the material of general election 2013 till date.

He said ballot papers were printed and distributed in the presence of Pakistan Army among the ROs and presiding officers.

He said the vote bags could only be opened on the order of election tribunals.

To another query, he said, due to little storage capacity, election material was kept at other places.

He said ECP had prepared a PC-1 to increase its storage capacity, requesting Ishaq Dar to help the commission in this regard.

To a question of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the secretary said, ECP was not bound to display ‘Form 14’ on the website, however, it was the right of the contesting candidates to take the form after following the set procedure.

Ishtiaq Ahmed also informed the committee that report published by the ECP was based on difficulties faced by the ROs and POs during the elections.

He said official report regarding the election 2013 was under process and it would be published shortly.

The secretary underlined the need for increasing the scrutiny time of candidates, saying the seven day period was not enough.