ISLAMABAD: Former Senator Farhatullah Babar expressed his reservations about the likelihood of the general elections taking place in the last week of January 2024, emphasizing that it appears probable but not certain.
Babar, a prominent figure in the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), strongly advocated for ending the involvement of the military establishment in political and electoral matters. He reiterated this point during a consultative session organized by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) in Islamabad, where the focus was on ensuring free and fair general elections.
The discussion brought together a diverse group of experts and stakeholders, including legal scholars, politicians, members of civil society, media representatives, and academics.
They gathered to address the challenges and potential solutions in the context of democratic elections in Pakistan.As the president of the PPP’s human rights cell, Babar proposed the exploration of compulsory voting and the introduction of a ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option to enhance the democratic process.
He also stressed the need for an independent investigation into the incidents of May 9, the failures of the Result Transmission System (RTS), and the ongoing necessity for electoral reforms.
Furthermore, Babar pointed out the critical concerns related to the participation of minorities and the manipulation of election results through social media, particularly by state institutions.
He called for a serious discussion on separating the voting list from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) database since NADRA data is security-driven and CNICs (Computerized National Identity Cards) are based on citizens’ requests.
Meanwhile, Shoaib Shaheen from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) addressed pressing issues related to missing persons and the party’s political workers, underscoring the diminishing trust and faith in the system.
He noted that this was exacerbated by heightened political polarization, which has led to increased violence. Shaheen also emphasized the significance of granting the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis in the upcoming election.
Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, a former federal minister from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), emphasized that the election should not face further delays.
He praised the parliament’s electoral reforms committee for its commendable recommendations and urged continued progress in the electoral reform process.
Dr Chaudhry also pointed to persistent issues such as election expenses and called on concerned individuals to fulfill their roles and responsibilities.