ECP continues to plead not-guilty at PERC meeting

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  • ECP secy says material burnt in Lahore school fire does not relate to election 2013
  • PERC chairman asks ECP secretary to bring minutes of meeting held with political parties over ROs appointments, produce details on candidates’ complaints and objections

 

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan Thursday informed the Parliamentary Electoral Reforms Committee (PERC) that the material burnt in a Lahore school fire did not relate to the 2013 elections.

The PERC met at the Parliament House under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who directed the ECP to come up with suggestions to improve the existing election system in the country, saying that the body had so far received about 540 suggestions from different quarters.

Briefing the committee, the ECP secretary claimed that the burnt material was only meant for holding local body elections in the provinces, except Balochistan where the polls had already been held.

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

Ishtiak also the meeting that 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 on candidates’ complaints and objections against ROs and action taken by the ECP.

The secretary said that 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 that 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.

Moreover, 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.

Furthermore, answering a 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 Dar to help the commission in this regard.

To a question of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed the secretary said that 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.

Ishtiak 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.

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