Law Ministry objects to ECP amendments in nomination papers

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In a big jolt to Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) ‘efforts’ to conduct free, fair and transparent elections under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution, the Law Ministry on Friday objected to amendments recently proposed in nomination papers.
In order to ensure fairness, impartiality and credibility of the elections to guard against corrupt practices, the ECP had proposed several amendments to ensure that only taxpayers and people having financial integrity were allowed to enter the electoral race. But, the Law Ministry thought otherwise.
In the proposed nomination paper, candidates are required to furnish details about the payment of income and agriculture taxes, history of criminal offence, education, details of foreign trips made during last three years and list of dependents and number of children studying abroad.
But, the Law Ministry thinks these clauses are ‘irrelevant’ and most of them are already part of the law. On the other hand, the ECP after reviewing the ministry’s objections, decided in principle not to backtrack from the proposed nomination paper. On Friday, the ECP in an internal meeting decided that since it proposed the amendments in the nomination papers In line with the spirit of Article 218(3) of the constitution as well as following the directions of the Supreme Court, it would not reconsider amendments at all cast.
After detailed deliberations, the ECP asked the Law Ministry to get the proposed nomination papers approved from the president by March 11. Otherwise, the ECP would send old nomination papers for printing. The commission on Friday wrote a letter to the Law Ministry secretary conveying that they would not withdraw proposals. In the letter, the ECP directed the ministry to get the nomination form approved from the president by Monday.
The Law Ministry told the ECP that the tax returns record of the last three years should not be sought from the candidates but from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). The ministry also said there is no need to seek details of foreign passport in nomination paper. It also said that if criminal case against any candidate was pending then he couldn’t be declared ineligible for contesting elections.
Meanwhile, the ECP secretary visited Military Operations Directorate, General Headquarters on Friday and discussed issues related to provision of security during upcoming elections. The army authorities assured all possible support to ECP to ensure peaceful environment for the elections. More details of sensitive areas/polling stations will be worked out by the ECP and shared in next meeting scheduled after announcement of election dates.