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> PILDAT deeply concerned at reports of amendment of Presidential Election Rules by the ECP

September 16, 2007


Islamabad, September 16; Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency – PILDAT has expressed serious concern at the media reports and the statement of Dr. Sher Afgan Niazi, Federal Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, that the Election Commission of Pakistan has issued a notification on September 10, under which Article 63 of the Constitution has been made inapplicable to the Presidential Election.


PILDAT, in its Press Release, noted that no such notification was announced by the Election Commission in the media. Even the ‘Notifications’ section of the official website of the Election Commission of Pakistan so far does not carry any such notification, noted PILDAT.


PILDAT has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to take serious notice of the statements of Dr. Sher Afgan Niazi who inappropriately and repeatedly is acting as the spokesperson of the Election Commission casting serious aspersions on the independence of the Election Commission. PILDAT called upon the Commission to expressly prohibit Dr. Niazi and all others to make declarations on behalf of the Election Commission. The Press Release noted that earlier Dr. Niazi had announced on behalf of the Commission that the Commission would announce the schedule of Presidential Election in the next 2 to 3 days.


PILDAT has also expressed serious concern at the revelation that the Election Commission is not free to amend its own rules and it has to seek approval of the President of Pakistan before making any amendment. The Election Commission should immediately clarify why the Election Commission has to seek such permission and what laws bind the Election Commission to such unnecessary and inappropriate subordination to the President of Pakistan. PILDAT demanded that Rules of Business should be immediately amended to make Election Commission independent of any Presidential interference in the form of prior approval of Election Commission actions.


PILDAT added that in case the notification making Article 63 inapplicable to Presidential Election has really been issued by the ECP on September 10, why such a notification has not been made public by the ECP and why it is not placed on the ECP official website as all official notifications of the ECP are required to be widely publicised for the information of all concerned.


If indeed such a notice has been issued, PILDAT has further questioned the appropriateness of issuing such a notification so close to the date of Presidential Election whereas the Supreme Court Judgments which are stated to be the basis for the amendment to Presidential Election Rules were made way back in 2002 and 2005. PILDAT has asked the ECP to clarify the process of amending the rules in this particular case explaining where the initiative for the amendment came from; whether it was an initiative taken exclusively by the Election Commission or taken at the advice or pressure of the Government and/or the President’s office. PILDAT added that if the news of the amendment to the rules is true, it raises serious doubts about the independence of the Election Commission and its ability to hold free and fair election in Pakistan.