‘ECP election reform plan unimplemented’


The Election Commission of Pakistan has failed to implement its five-year strategic plan for electoral reforms as only 48 percent reforms have been implemented, says a report issued by PILDAT.
In its citizens monitoring report on implementation of electoral reforms in Pakistan, the PILDAT has claimed that only 48 percent of the ECP’s five-year strategic plan has been implemented, which has been a major failure. However, the report acknowledged that a full-time and permanent election commission had come into being for the first time in the history of Pakistan with its four members appointed after bipartisan consensus.
“But by December-end 2011, the average progress made on 76 objectives under the ECP Strategic Plan that were scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2011 is assessed to be 36 percent while this progress should have been 100 percent. Of the 76 objectives, which the ECP was set to achieve by December 31, 2011, only six have been completely realised while work is in progress on the remaining 70,” says the report.
While the ECP has the responsibility to implement its five-year strategic plan, it is the responsibility of the citizens to monitor the progress of implementation and raise questions where the progress is slow or stalled, says the report, which is the first report on monitoring of the progress on state of electoral reforms in Pakistan. The report also notes that the ECP has taken some landmark steps towards free and fair election in Pakistan such as initiating a legislation to declare computerised national identification card (CNIC) a pre-requisite for registration as a voter and casting a vote, using NADRA database for new electoral rolls, addition of voters picture in the electoral rolls, studying the feasibility of using an electronic voting machine (EVM) and plans to set up a political finance wing in the ECP to check the excessive use of money in elections. However, the report notes that the ECP deserved credit for preparing specific blueprint and a roadmap for electoral reforms, with consultation and input from political parties and civil society organisations of Pakistan which was detailed as five-year strategic plan.
Analysing progress, the PILDAT report says preparation of revised Computerised Electoral Rolls is only 75 percent complete despite the expiry of the original deadline of December 31, 2011 fixed by the ECP. Efforts to improve the participation of marginalised sections of the society such as women, minorities and persons with disabilities have made only 12 percent progress. Efforts for strengthening the participation of political parties and candidates have yielded only 20 percent progress so far.
The ECP had prepared and unveiled the five-year strategic plan 2010-2014 on May 25, 2010. In the plan, a total of 129 objectives were listed under 15 strategic goals with deadline set for achieving each objective. PILDAT plans to issue quarterly monitoring reports on the implementation of the Election Commission Strategic Plan. Seventy-six objectives were scheduled to be achieved by December 31, 2011. The remaining 46 are scheduled to be achieved after December 31, 2011 – some as late as December 2014.
It is estimated that the implementation of the Strategic Plan will require Rs 9 billion over a period of five years. Only about 10 percent of the required amount has so far been committed by foreign donors. The Citizens Monitoring Report has also listed key electoral issues, which will dominate the discourse on election and electoral reforms in Pakistan in the near future.
Electoral Rolls and deadline of February 23 set by the Supreme Court for the completion of the electoral rolls will continue to capture the headlines, appointment of the new chief election commissioner (CEC) by March, “consultative process” for the formation of caretaker governments, date of the next parliamentary election, questions about the fairness of the next general election in the presence of a partisan president and partisan provincial governors, and the term (two or five years) of current members of the ECP are expected to be major issues of focus in the coming days, the report says.