Changing laws and making them more favorable for its own members is a common practice at the end of the tenure of every government in Pakistan. Among other one of such changes has to do with the nomination papers prepared by parliamentarians themselves. They tried to restrict Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), an act which has been nullified now by Lahore High Court (LHC).
Every citizen has right to know everything about politicians. This statement is not only accepted but also implemented in true letter and spirit all around the world especially in the developed countries. It is being followed in the developing countries too. For instance, in India, it is election commission that decides everything including the content of nomination papers of the candidates so that everything could be known to the masses.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in Pakistan. Parliament in the wake of being authoritative tried to subjugate the people’s right to know. This right of knowing everything about the “to be-elected politicians” was attempted to be gulped down by the parliamentarians when they utterly changed the shape of the nomination papers. They removed every crucial point concerning their personal and professional life.
The crucial points, including the source of income, nationality, asset, criminal record and you name it, were removed from the nomination papers.
On behalf of Habib Akram, political commentator and columnist in Dunya News, law expert Saad Rasool filed a petition in which Section 60, 110 and 137 of the Election Act 2018 were challenged. LHC rejected all these changes and directed the ECP to produce the nomination forms itself. Justice Ayesha A. Malik directed the ECP to add constitutional requirements related to article 62 and 63.
Overall, this act shows the intention of the ruling elite. The parliamentarians including those of PTI, who remained silent and let it happened, undermined the ability of ECP and modified the nomination papers, something which should have decided and done by it.
Parliament is not omnipotent. It consists of parliamentarians who are answerable. It is not more supreme to the nation or constitution. Every person has right to know everything about the members they elect. The parliamentarians should first be thoroughly went over. For a common man, who searches for a job in a public organization, the recruitment process is very strict. The person’s personal and professional life is thoroughly checked. His mental and physical abilities are observed and a professional psychologist tests his mental characteristics and tendencies. In short, he has to pass through a very rigorous set of tests, but in case of parliamentarians, whose legislation can change the life of millions of people in some minutes, any such yardstick already established was removed.
The response of PPP was no less than a shock. The party, which claims to be a savior of democracy, is more tended toward keeping the nation unconscious of the character of its representatives. Even a senior barrister could not stand censuring the court’s verdict. If parliament is to perform and decide the future of every matter, there is no need to have these state-run institutions. Let the parliament be all omnipotent. But then there will be no democracy, but a system having the resemblance to monarchy or feudalism.
Setting political views aside, it is a victorious moment for the entire nation. Its right to know has been preserved – this time, by a journalist and a lawyer. And it is more crucial to consider than any other hot issue on media these days. Resultantly, it will guarantee free and ‘fair’ elections.
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