NA holds debate on elections bill,parliamentarians suggest measures for free, fair elections

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ISLAMABAD August 21 (APP): The National Assembly here on
Monday held a debate on the Elections bill, 2017 and parliamentarians
recommended further amendments and measures to ensure free, fair and
transparent elections so nobody can raise fingers on the elections
results.
The House had been discussing the Elections bill 2017 since
last Friday by suspending the routine agenda.
Taking part in the debate, federal minister Abdul Qadir
Baloch said Balochistan, with 44 percent of the total land area of
Pakistan, had 14 directly elected members while three are indirectly
elected from the province.
He said he was elected from a constituency with an area of
65,000 square kilometers and it was very difficult for him to reach
every person in the constituency because of the large area.
Abdul Qadir said due to law and order situation, it was
essential for the members of Parliament belonging to Balochistan to
keep a convoy of four vehicles while traveling and bear the
expenditure of guards and other personnel who accompany the convoy.
He suggested that number of parliamentarians from
Balochistan should be increased and one member each should be elected
from 32 districts of Balochistan.
Large areas with small populations should be given more
representation in the National Assembly; he said adding polling
stations in Balochistan were as far away as 30 kilometers from each other.
Baloch said introduction of biometric system would be
problematic in Balochistan which lacked facilities of electricity.
He said it was totally wrong that intelligence agencies
could manipulate elections in Pakistan.
Each district with population of millions of people had
only staff of three to four persons from intelligence agencies, he told.
He said despite all the speculations; at the end voters of
Pakistan choose their governments and nobody else.
PMLQ member Ghous Buksh Mehr said Returning Officers
should be given more authority to ensure fairness in elections.
MQM Parliamentary leader Farooq Sattar said it took
Parliament three years to prepare the new election law with the aim to
end adhocism in the election system.
He said MQM wanted that people from lower middle classes
should get a representation in the National Assembly and Senate.
The MQM leader said influence of money in politics should be
reduced to ensure free, fair and transparent elections.
“Cause of all ailments in elections is the use of massive
amounts of money. A limit should be imposed on spending by candidates
and their parties.”
“We need to take democracy to the doorstep of the people so
that every person participates in the democratic process.”
He also stressed upon agricultural reforms so that farmers,
labourers and small farmers could also take part in elections.
” A political worker raises slogans, gets beaten up and goes
to jail but he cannot stand in elections because millions of rupees
are required to contest an election and only electables with money can
become candidates.”
Farooq Sattar said local governments should not be just
showpieces and administrative and financial powers should be given to
them.
If provinces refuse to hand over powers to local governments
then a penalty should be imposed on them, Farooq continued.
Farooq demanded that overseas Pakistanis should be given the
right to vote.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed
Khurshid Shah asked for an explanation from the government over recent
issuance of Rs 30 billion for development projects.
He said it was desire of his party that the Parliament
should complete its tenure and sanity prevails on all sides on
political matters.
Minister Aftab Sheikh said the Prime Minister announced a
development package of Rs 25 billion for Karachi and Rs five billion
for development projects of Hyderabad.
The Prime Minister also approved a development package for
different schemes for provinces which allocate matching grants for the
federal projects, he noted.
He said provinces of Punjab and Balochistan came up with
matching grants and federal government projects were started in the
provinces.
MNA from Jamaat e Islami Sher Akbar Khan supported use of
biometric system in the election and also asked for measures to grant
right of vote to overseas Pakistanis.
PTI MNA Arif Alvi appreciated efforts of the Parliament to
introduce comprehensive election reforms.
MNA Shazia Mari said the new election law was the result of
strenuous efforts made by the National Assembly in three years.
She called for more representation to women in the National
Assembly and Senate.
She said it was appreciable step that 10 percent female
votes were made compulsory in election of a constituency.
PPP MNA Fehmida Mirza said spending limit for elections of
National Assembly should be increased as it was not possible to
contest an election with expenses of Rs four million.