Cabinet approves draft Electoral Reforms Bill

1195
APP01-07 ISLAMABAD: February 07 - Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb and Federal Minister for Law and Justice and Climate Change Zahid Hamid addressing a press conference at PM Office. APP photo by Javed Qureshi

ISLAMABAD, Feb 7 (APP): The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday approved
the historic draft Electoral Reforms Bill prepared by the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms.
The proposed law, which will grant financial and administrative autonomy to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), is expected to be presented to the Parliament next month for enactment.
The cabinet, which met here with Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in the chair, discussed 33-point agenda. Later Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid, and Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb briefed the media about the decisions taken by the cabinet.
Marriyum Aurangzeb said besides discussing the draft Electoral Reforms Bill, the cabinet under the Prime Minister’s Healthcare Programme gave approval for issuance of additional funds for treatment of patients suffering from fatal diseases, including kidney, liver, bone marrow transplant and various forms of cancer.
The cabinet decided that 46 modern hospitals having 100 to 500 beds capacity, would be built in all parts of the country on emergency basis to provide the latest healthcare facilities to the poor, she said.
The minister said Health Infrastructure Development and Management Company (HIDMC) would be established.
She said the report of Cabinet Committee Constituted for the People
Affected by Indian Firing on the Working Boundary was also discussed in the meeting. It was decided that Rs 500,000 compensation would be given to the heirs of each person martyred in Indian firing in Sialkot and Narowal sectors and Rs 150,000 for the treatment of each seriously injured.
Moreover, 50 bunkers would be built along the Working Boundary so that people wandering at vulnerable positions could take refuge there during shelling, Marriyum Aurangzeb added.
About Afghan refugees, she said the registered Afghan nationals would be allowed to live in Pakistan till December 31, 2017 while the Interior Ministry would continue registration of the unregistered ones.
It was also decided that the Afghans cross-border movement would now be regulated through the visa regime and their entry passes would be linked with it.
Giving details of the draft Electoral Reforms Bill, Law Minister Zahid Hamid said the recommendations for electoral reforms had been prepared with consensus by the parliamentary committee.
The Sub-Committee of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms, he said, would mull over the required constitutional amendments before presentation of the reforms bill to the Parliament for approval.
He said the recommendations envisaged total financial, administrative and functional autonomy for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The ECP would be empowered to take disciplinary action against officials deputed from other departments and ministries for election purpose.
The commission would be required to prepare a comprehensive action plan six months ahead of elections to seek input and objections from the political parties and candidates, he said.
A formal complaint system, he added, would be introduced to lodge complaints about malpractices before elections and their redressal.
The Law Minister said votes would be counted and result compiled
at the polling station, and the Form-14 containing result would
be transmitted to the Returning Officer and the ECP through a mobile application to ensure prompt transmission of results.
In case victory margin was less than 5 per cent or 10,000 votes than recounting would be mandatory, he added.
A uniform system of printing of ballot papers, he said, would be introduced for all constituencies.
Under the reforms package, he said a citizen would be automatically registered as a voter once he or she was issued a Computerized National Identity Card and no application would be needed for the purpose.
The minister said special measures would be undertaken to encourage enlistment of women voters in case there was difference of more than 10 per cent in the number of male and female votes. All the political parties would have to issue 5 per cent tickets to female candidates on general seats.
Disabled voters would be provided postal ballot facility, he added.
He said delimination of constituencies would be carried out after
every 10 years.
Zahid Hamid said since consensus could not be reached on Articles 62 and 63, so the issue of their implementation was not touched in the draft legislation.