Electoral Reforms in Pakistan, Need Consensus

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For the last three years, Prime Minister Imran Khan has stayed in power primarily because of the support of the military establishment. Mismanagement of the economy, politics, foreign policy, and security of the country have led his government to lose the support of every segment of society, even political allies.

The latest example of this loss of support was witnessed when the PML-Q, MQM and GDA refused to back the controversial electoral reforms bills, forcing the government to postpone a joint sitting of parliament.

The government may claim as Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain does that “the electoral reforms were connected to the country’s future. “We are trying in good faith to build a consensus on these reforms. In this regard, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has once again been asked to contact the opposition so that a joint bill can be introduced. This is precisely the reason for postponing the joint session of parliament.”

However, over the last three years the PTI led government has been on a “warpath with the opposition” and has refused “in a meaningful manner to allay their concerns about the proposed reforms and accommodating their suggestions to ensure ‘free and fair’ elections. Electoral reforms without participation from the opposition and other stakeholders will not serve democracy.”

As an editorial in Dawn notes, “The PM has rightly stated that democracy begins with free and fair elections. But it’s also a fact that no democracy can survive without a vibrant opposition, which his government is bent on decimating. It is good to see the government engaging in legislative activity, but bulldozing legislation without thorough debate and input from the opposition defeats parliament’s raison d’être. This is especially true for legislation on important issues like electoral reforms.”

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Author: Omar Derawal