PADF Demands Election Rules Must be Decided by Supreme Court of Pakistan
By Muhammad Salim Akhtar


Recently, members of the Pakistan American Democratic Front (PADF) convened a teleconference to discuss the political situation in Pakistan. The key points of the conference call are summarized below:
1. Pakistan has experienced an irreversible qualitative change and the locus of power has shifted from the Army House to the Supreme Court.
2. Pakistan has now developed a 60-80 million strong middle class that is rooted both in urban and rural areas of the country and the literacy rates had topped 50%. Thus the changes were being propelled by this urban and rural middle classes who have pushed back the military as well as the feudals. The general dependency on feudal lords has been substantially reduced.
3. The educated middle and lower middle classes have emerged as the principle constituency of a free press, and its main support base.
4. Globalization and the Internet have further empowered these educated segments by making them aware of their rights and their choices and by providing comparable examples of other nations.
5. The freedom of the press was a key factor in winning the freedom of the judiciary and now these two must work together to achieve the freedom of parliament which will make Pakistan a truly free nation.
6. The free press and the free judiciary must also coalesce to help establish an independent and neutral Election Commission.
7. The pro-democracy forces must help strengthen all major institutions of Pakistan, each with the mandate and the means to play its own constitutional role. Now is the time for the opinion leaders to inculcate confidence in the institutions and usher the process of dismantling personality cults.
8. The military rule should not be replaced by dynastic rule. Both these curses must be must be removed from the body-politic of Pakistan once and for all.
In view of the above, the PADF calls for:
1. The electoral framework (standards, rules, procedures, oversights, etc) should be given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and not by Gen Musharraf (who himself is a candidate).
2. Only candidates in full compliance with the Constitution and other relevant laws should be eligible to contest elections.
3. The media and independent observers must be given complete access to polling stations particularly when the votes are being counted.
4. The Election Commission must resolve the issue of expatriate voting rights. (It was decided that PADF President Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Toor would seek clarification from the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan regarding procedures and voting rights of Pakistani living overseas as well as those who have acquired citizenship in another country.)

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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