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> Lawyers & Civil Society Should Closely Monitor General Election
December 14, 2007


Islamabad, December 14; Reviewing the prevailing election scenario in the country, the Citizens Group on Electoral Process, chaired by Justice (Retd.) Saeed uz Zaman Siddiqui, has urged the lawyers and the civil society to play an active role in monitoring the General Election so that it can be held in free, fair and transparent manner.


The Citizens Group respects the position of the lawyers’ community to boycott the General Election. However, the Group believes that as a non-partisan body of civil society, the lawyers’ movement must also play a role in overseeing the fairness of the General Election and guard the sanctity of the citizens’ ballots cast in support of their representatives. This role, the Citizens Group believe, does not run contrary to the stated position of boycott by the lawyers but in effect supports the achieving of their overall objective of the independence of judiciary. A free and fair election is one of the means to achieve the overall objective of establishing rule of law in Pakistan and reject the lawlessness imposed by Gen. (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf.


The members of the Citizens Group on Electoral Process reiterate its earlier position that the caretaker governments are, in effect, partisan governments and can not ensure a free and fair election. The Election Commission of Pakistan remains incomplete and does not possess the ability to play an independent and non-partisan role. The Group reassert its position that the local governments need to be made dysfunctional for the duration of elections.


The Citizens Group viewed with concern the statement by General (Retired) Musharraf that further amendments will be made in the Constitution before it is restored. The Group cautioned against any further illegal steps and warned that nation would reject any such move.


The Citizens Group on Electoral Process is a non-partisan body consisting of eminent Pakistanis that regularly meets to monitor the process leading up to General Election. The meeting of the Citizens Group on Electoral Process was chaired by Justice (Retd.) Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, Former Chief Justice of Pakistan. Justice (Retd.) Khalil ur Rehman, Former Judge Supreme Court and Justice (Retd.) Nasir Aslam Zahid, Former Judge Supreme Court participated in the meeting as observers. Members of the Group who participated in the meeting included Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Asad Durrani, Former Director General, ISI / MI; Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gilani, Chairman, Gallup Pakistan; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, Former Governor Sindh and Former Interior Minister; Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Pakistan; Justice (Retd.) Nasira Javed Iqbal, Former Judge, Lahore High Court; Mr. Omar Khan Afridi, Former Chief Secretary NWFP; Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Executive Director and Joint Director of PILDAT respectively.