Role reversal

A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press

Written by Ruchika Talwar | Published: April 13, 2013 3:53 am

Role reversal

This week in election-bound Pakistan,two high-profile candidates whose nomination papers were rejected by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for reasons valid and invalid,got retribution — and their nomination.

Former parliamentarian Jamshed Dasti,who was jailed for having a fake graduation degree,was released by the court. The Express Tribune reported on April 10: “The Lahore High Court Multan Bench ordered the release of former MNA Jamshed Dasti… The verdict in favour of the ex-MNA came after no evidence was submitted and witnesses failed to appear before the court…”

Ayaz Amir,renowned columnist and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentarian,was also disqualified because the returning officer processing his papers thought his writings were “against the ideology of Pakistan”. The returning officer alleged the “inappropriate use of words for the azaan” in Amir’s writings. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) heavyweight Faisal Saleh Hayat,whose papers were also rejected as someone had appealed against his nomination alleging “water theft”,also got clearance from the court. The Express Tribune reported on April 11: “Amir said it was the first time in the country’s history that ‘views in a column’ were made the basis of such objections and welcomed the appeal decision as a victory for freedom of expression. He added that the next parliament should ‘review’ articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.”

The foreign vote

PAKISTAN has discussed electoral reforms for some years. The latest is the participation of overseas Pakistanis. Daily Times reported on April 12: “The ECP has told the Supreme Court that it is evolving an effective mechanism to ensure that overseas Pakistanis in 10 countries can exercise their right to vote in the upcoming general elections. A three-member bench of the court,headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry,on Thursday expressed confidence that the ECP and other government departments would finalise the procedure to facilitate overseas Pakistanis so that they could exercise their right of vote.” Almost 5 million Pakistani abroad are registered as potential voters with Nadra,Pakistan’s national population register.

An editorial in The News on April 12 criticised the delay: “The issue of whether or not overseas voters can or are eligible to vote has been on the table for years,and certainly for the life of the last parliament,and has never been either satisfactorily addressed or resolved. The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the overseas voters and directed that mechanisms be developed whereby they can cast their votes — but easier said than done,as the saying goes. While Nadra has developed software that would enable voters to cast their ballot online,the ECP itself has objected to voting from overseas on the grounds that it ‘could lead to complications and controversies.’ That there are complications is undeniable,equally undeniable is that those same complications have been there for at least five years and still remain — complicated.”

Mother and child

CONSIDER this: Meera,a “movie star” of Lollywood (as fondly labelled by Lahore’s filmdom) announced last month that she will contest the elections from Lahore,that too against a seemingly strong Imran Khan. This month,her mother,who didn’t want to miss the action,announced she too will fight. Both have secured a ticket from the Justice Party. The Express Tribune reported on April 11: “Following her daughter’s suit,actor Meera’s mother has also decided to contest the upcoming elections in Haroonabad district on a Justice Party ticket… Meera said that she has come to Pakistan from India only to support her mother. ‘My mom doesn’t need my support because she is very strong herself… Whatever hasn’t happened in Haroonabad for 65 years will now be done by my mom… My mom will now be Haroonabad’s mom’.”

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