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Why Electoral Reforms in Pakistan?

The echo of rigging in Election 2013 was again in the air in 2018. In 2013 all looser parties claimed that the elections were rigged.  PTI came forward to launch a protest movement. The Election Commission and the incumbent government failed to address the massive rigging allegations of PTI (Pakistan Tehreek Insaf). The resultant protests created political instability. ultimately the Judicial Commission probed, pointed out massive "irregularities" (legal term used for rigging) but cleared the elections, people kept guessing. Ultimately after over two and a half year's lengthy legal procedure case of NA-122 rigging allegations was decided by the Tribunal, which termed Ayaz Sadiq's election null and void and to hold by-elections.... The 2018 Elections brought PTI in power, oppositions (PML n was previously in power) again claim rigging... There was a protest march at Islamabad by religious party, supported by opposition but it failed. Surprisingly the opposition always level allegations of rigging but when same party is in power they do not try to introduce electoral reforms. May be they feel comfortable to win again through same "System"?

The present Electoral System has been analysed at macro level, to evolve a system suitable to our environments,  leaving micro details of conduct to the experts to sort out minor irregularities.

Electoral Reforms in Pakistan

The political instability in Pakistan is generally attributed to the frequent military interventions, though apparently true but history is witness that military only intervenes once incompetent corrupt politicians fail miserably. The people always welcome the change, but after few years the military rulers also fail to deliver and leave in more mess. Then "Democracy" is restored but again they are booted out, the cycle continues.

The PPP government elected in 2008 completed its 5 years, it was replaced by PML(N) all the parties claimed that the elections in 2013 were rigged. PTI came forward to launch a protest movement. The Election Commission and the incumbent government failed to address the massive rigging allegations of PTI (Pakistan Tehreek Insaf). The resultant protests created political instability. ultimately the Judicial Commission probed, pointed out massive "irregularities" (legal term  used for rigging) but cleared the elections, keeping people guessing. Ultimately after over two and a half year's lengthy legal procedure case of NA-122 rigging allegations was decided by the Tribunal, which termed Ayaz Sadiq's election null and void, to hold by elections.

Election Results 2018

Image result for judicial commission

By Election were held on 11 October 2013, Results are as follows:

NA-122 By Elections 11 October 2015

Total Registered Voters        : 357,762
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq (PML n) : 74525     [21% of registered votes, 50.4 % of polled]
Aleem Khan (PTI)                : 72082     [20.2% of registered, 48.7% of polled]
Mian Amir Hassan (PPP)      :   819
Independents                         :   596
Total Votes Cast                   : 148,022 (41.37% of total registered)
                                                             [Votes cast: 149885,Correct:148022  Rejected:1863]
It may be noted that The elected candidate represents only 21 % of registered voters of NA-122. 
Read more FPTPS:http://pakistan-posts.blogspot.com/2016/08/what-are-advantages-and-disadvantages.html

More over the looser who represents almost equal number i.e i.e 20.2%  of voters is not represented. How can we reject the will of almost equal number of people? This is working well in the well established society in UK, but not in the local Pakistani culture where there not much tolerance and patience. The  the issue is addressed though electoral reforms the democracy cannot flourish. The debate for electoral reforms has brought many aspects in to lime light. While the experts will come out with workable comprehensive reform package it is pertinent to highlight certain weaknesses in existing electoral system with some broad suggestions.
Image result for Judge declares NA 122 election invalid

It is true that during all the political crisis the parliament fails to deliver, governments with even 2/3 majority in the parliament fail miserably resulting in welcome military takeover. Present electoral system has repeatedly proved its ineffectiveness, because it does not genuinely represent the will of majority of people, hence it needs to be reformed to get genuine lawmakers representing will of people. 
One needs to ponder as to what is wrong with the political system in Pakistan? Two aspects needs immediate attention, firstly the quality of politicians or the elected representatives, secondly the prevalent democratic political system. Both are complimentary hence should be viewed together rather than in isolation.
The spirit of democracy is in representation of the will of people through their elected representatives in parliaments. If the parliament does not include representatives from all the segments of society rather represent minority, it will not be democracy but an illusion. 
It is interesting that in allegedly rigged elections held in May 2013, 84 Million voters were eligible to vote, total 45 Million (55 %) cast their votes. PML (N) got around 14.3 Million, 33% votes [in real terms 18% of total registered votes, 82% opposed], 30.5 Million (67%) people voted against PML (N), but as per the existing system it formed government being a party with parliamentary majority. How can it claim to posses the mandate of majority? This problem is further compounded with allegations of massive rigging.

In order to address this issue, there is not one uniform electoral system in the world. There are different electoral and political democratic systems like Presidential System, British Parliamentary system and mix of both. Similarly the systems of voting adopted by different countries are also suitable to the level of education and local environments. Effort is being made here to identify the problems in present electoral system in Pakistan with a view to suggest possible remedies for improvement.
Politics is the business of rich especially in Pakistan. After winning the election their first priority is to recover election expanses and expenses for next election. There are around 1200 elected members at federal and provincial houses in Pakistan, who are perceived to be corrupt. The figure of 1200 corrupt out of total population of 180000000 is very small, rather insignificant fraction which can be ignored if they are ordinary clerks, peons, laborers, workers etc, but these 1200 people are the elite who select the rulers, they are law makers, they form policies and run the government to rule 180000000 people. These 1200 people have the pivotal position of ‘brain’ in a body. If heart, lungs, kidneys and all the other organs of human body are functioning properly but there is a problem in the ‘brain’ can that man be called healthy? A person with brain malfunction is useless; he may be lying in bed in paralysis at the mercy of life support equipment and medics. Some times even called ‘brain dead’ though all other organs are working properly. A German saying: ‘fish starts to rot from brain’.

If we want to reform the society and progress as a respectable nation, we need good leaders, good politicians who should steer the country out of trouble not only filling their accounts with looted money. Higher the status of a person in government hierarchy higher is the standard of honesty, morality and character expected. Why the American and Westerners criticize their leaders for minor lapses? They force them to resign on matters considered petty in Pakistan standards [Richard NixonBill Clinton]. Remember the famous saying; ‘Army of lions lead by a jackal is doomed, but the army of jackals lead by lion will deliver the victory’.
Pakistan is passing through a crisis of its existence, how can we expect gang of corrupt, dishonest and incompetent politicians to take us out of this quagmire? We have to support and elect the honest, competent people with high integrity to lead, till then keep on exerting pressure on present political leadership and institutions to perform well, remain accountable to judiciary and people.
Even the Constitution of Pakistan takes in to cognizance the moral aspects of elected representatives in Article 62 (d to h), also applicable to President: 
(d) He is of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic Injunctions;
(e) He has adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from major sins ;
(f) He is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ‘Ameen’;
(g) He has not been convicted for a crime involving moral turpitude or for giving false evidence;
(h) He has not, after the establishment of Pakistan, worked against the integrity of the country or opposed the Ideology of Pakistan.
Deliberately no legislation has been done by parliament to implement these clauses of constitution as it would hurt them the most. It is argued that article 62 (d to h) is not implemental. It is argued that article 62 (d to h) is not implementable, but they dare not remove it due to fear of public reaction. So what is democracy if the wishes of people of Pakistan are not implemented?
Giving them free hand to plunder would be disastrous. 1200 people out of 180000000 are insignificant but even one man who heads the government is important, if he is honest and sincere the effects will travel down. However we should keep their past in view, the nature can not change, to quote: "Leopard cannot change spots at skin"; "Abyssinian cannot change his skin colour"; Brackish wells do not become sweet, even if you fill it with sugar, the children of snake can never become friend even if you feed them with milk.
If the 'innocent' politicians do not want to be criticized, they may choose some other 'profession' but why even now the businessmen are also joining politics? Its lucrative, to protect and expand their business empires. Why can't they declare their REAL assets? Weak Election Commission has not been able to sort out the fake degrees mess so far. Let it be known to every one that any one joining the politics must be ready for the scrutiny; they are not ordinary 1200 people to be ignored for their follies. If not checked they will be [they are] ruining the life of 180 million people!!!  

Political System:

The present British modelled parliamentary system suits the political elite, they hold reign of power through this system. After elections 2008, under the pretext of 'Reconciliation' & 'Charter of Democracy' Zardari [PPP] and Nawaz Sharif [PML n] both corrupts joined [under] hand to take their turn of loot and plunder. Mr. Asif Zardari  took it to new heights, MQM, JUI (F) left after taking their share, while PML (Q) has just joined the loot. The people, civil society, few honest politicians, Judiciary and Media could only make hue and cry against oppression. Mr.Nawaz Sharif after elections 2013 returns the gesture by keeping quiet on all allegations of corruption of Zardari government.
Too much power is concentrated with the parliamentarians, who have persistently proved to be unworthy of it: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", power to plunder is the norm. The chief executives [CE], Prime minister [PM] and chief ministers [CMs] of provinces are totally dependent on members of parliament for their election and to remain in power. Even an angel PM cannot remain fair under such circumstances of blackmail. They pressurise CE to get undue favours in bargain to their support to keep PM and CMs in power. Unless the political system is reformed the musical chair of power between politicians and military would continue with no regard to the welfare of general public.
If the monopoly of parliamentarians is restricted by taking away their power to elect Prime Minister, President, Senators, women and minority seats, which could also be elected through direct vote of people, corruption would decrease. The parliamentarians should be law makers so that the genuine people come forward. To keep President, PM and CM under check, the parliament with 75% votes should be able to impeach them. US, French and German constitutions should be looked at, they are not non democratic. Like US, the executive should be separated from legislative. Development of road, infrastructure is not the job of legislators; it’s the function of local government which should be further improved.
This political system is not divinely ordained; it could always be suitably modified to suit local environments.  At times people with minority vote get elected, while majority gets no representation, if 100000 votes are divided among various candidates, candidate A getting 15000, B 25000, C 15000, D 20000, E 10000, F 15000 candidate B with 25000 votes is winner with 25% votes while he was rejected by majority 75%, who remains unrepresented, this not fair democracy. 
Out of many cases, here NA-3 results in 2008 elections are shown to explain the point: Mr.Noor Alam Khan with 30% of polled votes is winner while 70% people cast votes against him to other candidates, actually he got only 10% of total registered votes, if 45% bogus votes are excluded the figure fall down significantly (5.5%). The extract of results is self explanatory:
Elections 2008

Hence the majority [64284] is not represented in parliament, how could it be called democracy?  No one has ever even seriously debated this aspect, resolving it is far fetched objective. Those not represented in parliament have to wait for next elections after 5 years or resort to protests and violence. Effort should be made to provide representation to maximum political groups [100% is ideal but it may not be possible], so that even small parties [getting overall 5% of polled votes] could get representation in parliament. The representatives  would be able to put across their point of view in democratic way not feeling dejected, resorting to other means including violence. 

Issue of proper election could be resolved through 2nd round of voting among top two or Proportional Representation [PR] system. Let’s look at the prevalent voting systems.

Use of Religion in Power Politics:

Pakistan is an Islamic state; the constitution acknowledges the sovereignty of Allah and laws to be within bounds of Quran and Sunnah. The political parties cannot go against the constitution, hence the need of using Islam (religion) for political gains is questioned, as if those political parties not using the label of Islam are anti Islam. This perception is not correct. There are political parties which use religious symbols like “Book” in elections as sign for “Quran” to attract the voters. This is exploitation of religion.
It must be understood that indulgence in the dirty game of power politics is not the role assigned to religious scholars by Allah in noble Quran. They should keep the role of great scholars and Imams like Abu Hanifa, Malic, Humble or Shafie [may Allah bless them] who peacefully resisted against tyranny of rulers but did not seek power. They knew well their actual responsibilities, to keep and preach the true message of Islam to all.
If some one is pious and religious but does not know driving, no one will take a chance to travel in the bus driven by such a person, as he will risk the life. The piety and religious knowledge is not sufficient for safe driving. Politics and running government is the job of people expert in this field. One is required to deal with many internal and external forces, to take all people along. Under Charter of Medina Muslims and non Muslims were given equal rights.
Some people are risking lives of innocent people by leading them to armed struggle, using religion for motivation. They think this is service to Islam. They ignore the task assigned to the Islamic Scholars by Quan:
 "Nor should the Believers all go forth together: if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them,- that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil). (Translation by Abdullah Yousuf Ali, Quran;9:122
The job of Ulema (Islamic Scholars) is teaching and preaching Islam, they are even exempted from Jihad, a great exemption if one can realise and understand. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) preached Islam, migrated to Medina, he did not grab power by force, people accepted him as their spiritual and political leader due to his strong character and qualities.
Our society need preaching (Dawah) to know and practice true teachings of Islam. If scholars leave this primary task, who will reform society? No amount of jugglery of words and explanation can change the clear meanings of Quran 9:122.
A good Muslim society will produce good leaders, rulers and good people in all all segments of society, Islam and Shari'a will get implemented without any resistance or Fisad. Hence it may be considered to ban use of religion for political purpose.

Election Systems:

There are basically two systems in parliamentary elections; Majority Election System and the Proportional Representation System [PR]. Both systems do have advantages and shortcomings and there is no generally accepted preference. Two important points to be considered are equal and just influence of every vote on the electoral result and stability of the political system.
Plurality/ Majority systems. These are the winner-take-all systems that are usually used in the United States. They include the common plurality systems like the single-member district plurality vote and at large voting, and less common majority systems like the two-round runoff and the instant run-off.

Proportional representation systems.

These voting systems are used by most other advanced Western democracies and are designed to ensure that parties are represented proportionally in the legislature. They include party list systems, mixed-member proportional, and the single transferable vote.
‘Semiproportional systems’ are relatively rare worldwide, these systems have garnered some interest in the United State. They tend to produce more proportional results than plurality/majority systems, but less proportional results than fully proportional systems. They include cumulative voting and limited voting.

Majority Election System:

With the majority election system, only one Member of Parliament is to be elected per constituency [area and group of voters living therein that is taken as a unit in the election process]. The basic idea is that the most qualified personality shall be selected to represent the constituency.


With the majority election system, small parties have no chance to win a mandate unless there are some constituencies with a population having political views differing much from those in the rest of the country. With the size constituencies in big nations do have (some 100,000 voters) this is rather unlikely. Therefore the majority election system will inevitably lead to parties uniting or building blocks (tight alliances) until only two major players remain on the political scene. So voters are forced to select between the candidates of two big parties basically. While the this tends to create a stable parliamentary majority for the government it is not likely to represent a pluralistic modern society adequately.
Supporters of a minority party might feel not being represented by the member of parliament rooted in their region because he or she represents the other party and other political concepts.
In a big nation, one member of parliament is going to represent some 100,000 inhabitants or even more, as in Pakistan. Evidently these people do not live in towns of exactly this size. To assign fairly equal numbers of inhabitants to every constituency, several villages and small towns must be grouped to form a constituency while large cities must be divided into several constituencies. There is no "natural", evident rule of assignment.
In the past years it has repeatedly been reported that minor changes in the definition of constituencies were deliberately planned by governments of several countries (U.K., France, Pakistan and others) to ensure that their party could win a few mandates in a situation where government and opposition party have almost the same strength.
The trick herein is the following: if there is a constituency with a solid majority for the government party, subtract a few towns voting overwhelmingly for the government and add them to a neighbouring constituency where the government party just needs a few percents more of the votes to win the election and exchange these towns for a few towns known to be voting for the opposition - so the government's party will win both seats.
In principle, this kind of manipulation is just as much electoral fraud as counting some votes twice or having some votes uncounted. The problem is: the existing old borders of a constituency might have been created by the same kind of manipulation by a former government and it is almost impossible to find a really neutral solution.
While the majority election system seems to be straightforward and simple at first glance, it leads to rather complex decisions that are not transparent to voters. This is definitely not a basis to create trust in democracy.

Proportional Representation System [PR]:

With the Proportional Representation System several members of parliament are to be elected per constituency. Basically every political party presents a list of candidates and voters can select a list that is they vote for a political party. Parties are assigned parliamentary seats proportionally to the number of votes they get. The basic idea is that the political parties play a key role in creating political solutions (even in a majority election system). A reasonable number of competing parties will create more and better ideas while just two big parties (resulting from the majority election system) tend to be at a deadlock with inflexible positions.


With several parties there is more choice and voters are more likely to find a party that does represent their major political convictions than would be possible in a two-party system. Supporters of a small party are likely to be represented by at least one member of parliament rooted in their region and sharing their political views and convictions.
The size of constituencies is bigger and there are less possibilities to manipulate their borders than with the majority election system. Usually the borders of the constituencies are fixed by historical considerations (provinces, federal states, counties etc.). As several seats are assigned to parties proportionally to votes even within a constituency, the borders of a constituency are not as relevant to the election result as in a majority election system.
With an increased number of represented parties a majority for a single party becomes less probable. If the government must be based on too many small parties they may disagree when new issues emerge. This may become a danger to political stability and cause anticipated elections absorbing the attention of politicians. If instability gets notorious in a country, the state as a whole will just not be able to perform the tasks it should.
Small parties may also abuse their position to get support for special interests (for examples subsidies for institutions related to the party) in exchange for support for the government policy. This is nothing less than a form of corruption.
In most countries with proportional elections the parties decide who will represent them in parliament. There may be a difference between the party hierarchy deciding on the top places on the party's list of candidates and the voters preferences. In some countries, there are additional rules to make sure that voters may have some influence which candidates will represent them. The most sophisticated system of this kind has been established in Switzerland: Voters may replace candidates on a party list by other candidates (even from a different party) and favourite candidates may appear twice on a list (while the total number of candidates on a list may not exceed the number of seats, of course). For those who think this is too complicated for them there is always the possibility to use an unchanged party list. This way, a major drawback of the proportional election system is eliminated while preserving the obvious advantages of proportional representation. More than 86 countries have adopted PR or mixed PR with Majority Vote system.
The possible results of Election 2013 with existing (Majority) and PR system comparison inn table below are interesting:


After analysing the popular voting systems in the world and peculiar environment and experience in Pakistan, following may be considered:

1.     The PR system can be applied at all levels.

2.  Mix of both voting systems. Majority vote system for lower house and provincial assemblies while, PR [direct vote of people, not through provincial assemblies] for Senate [upper house]. The Senate should be made more powerful, as it would have equal representation of all provinces.

3.     There should be through debate to find more options to ensure maximum representation of people, ensuring that minority does not impose itself upon majority.

4.    The ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) has to be independent and powerful, not a toothless body acting as puppet to government in power. The problem of time delays in counting, bogus voting and stealing ballot boxes to physically manipulate results. Restructuring of ECP, with wide powers and freedom is required. ECP being an executive, administrative function may be headed by senior bureaucrat of repute rather than judge. Cue from India may help in this regards.

5.     Indian method of using simple user friendly Electronic Voting Machines.

6.    The Elected local government institutions [LB, Local Bodies] should be strengthened by giving them more autonomy. The LB elections be conducted regularly along with general elections.

7. Completely neutral caretaker governments with broad consensus not restricted to government and leader of opposition but all major parties.

8.    The requirement to elect honest politicians with good record according to article 62, 63 of constitution.  

9.     Returning Officers (ROs) play major role in conduct of elections. Judicial officers remain under influence of Judiciary, this aspect need to be looked in to. ROs and other staff should be appointed with least interference, people of repute.

10. Mechanism to address the petitions, election disputes be quick and effective.

11. Use of CNIC should remain a check against bogus voting.

12. Allowing overseas Pakistanis to vote, they contribute positively in the economic development through 14 Billion dollars annually.

13. Election to be conducted in phases for administrative convenience within shortest possible timeframe. [Recently In India the general elections were phased over a period of six weeks.

14. Military may be employed to conduct election till neutral civil institutions are established.

15. Use of religion for political gains be discouraged or avoided. Independent may be eliminated, or some alternative arrangements be made.

16. A permanent mechanism be evolved to continuously improve the electoral system involving all stake holders including opposition political parties. 


As long the 'ruling elite' holding to power from last 66 years with cosmetic change of faces is not ousted peacefully there will be no PEACE, the EXTREMISM shall continue to flourish. This suits 'ruling elite' to remain in power indefinitely. Poor masses suffer while rulers, their children and wealth is safe and well protected here or in Switzerland, Europe and elsewhere.

Despite all the short comings, democracy remains the only choice, military dictatorship is not the answer. The democratic system should be progressive, open to reforms and improvement. This has to be done through and within the existing system by exerting pressure to create awareness among politicians for their own survival, for survival of democracy and country. The politicians tend to behave like dictators; transition to develop democratic culture will take some time, which could be reduced through accountability, awareness and political reforms.


Advantages of presidential systems:
Supporters generally claim four basic advantages for presidential systems:
Direct elections — in a presidential system, the president is often elected directly by the people. This makes the president's power more legitimate than that of a leader appointed indirectly. However, this is not a necessary feature of a presidential system. Some presidential states have an unelected or indirectly elected head of state.
Separation of powers — a presidential system establishes the presidency and the legislature as two parallel structures. This allows each structure to monitor and check the other, preventing abuses of power.
Speed and decisiveness — A president with strong powers can usually enact changes quickly. However, the separation of powers can also slow the system down.
Stability — a president, by virtue of a fixed term, may provide more stability than a prime minister, who can be dismissed at any time.

Critics generally claim three basic disadvantages for presidential systems:
Tendency towards authoritarianism — some political scientists say presidentialism raises the stakes of elections, exacerbates their polarization and can lead to authoritarianism (Linz).
Political gridlock — the separation of powers of a presidential system establishes the presidency and the legislature as two parallel structures. Critics argue that this can create an undesirable and long-term political gridlock whenever the president and the legislative majority are from different parties, which is common because the electorate usually expects more rapid results from new policies than are possible (Linz, Mainwaring and Shugart). In addition, this reduces accountability by allowing the president and the legislature to shift blame to each other.
Impediments to leadership change — presidential systems often make it difficult to remove a president from office early, for example after taking actions that become unpopular.

Differences from a parliamentary system
A number of key theoretical differences exist between a presidential and a parliamentary system:
In a presidential system, the central principle is that the legislative and executive branches of government are separate. This leads to the separate election of president, who is elected to office for a fixed term, and only removable for gross misdemeanor by impeachment and dismissal. In addition he or she does not need to choose cabinet members commanding the support of the legislature. By contrast, in parliamentarianism, the executive branch is led by a council of ministers, headed by a Prime Minister, who are directly accountable to the legislature and often have their background in the legislature (regardless of whether it is called a "parliament", assembly, a "diet", or a "chamber").

As with the president's set term of office, the legislature also exists for a set term of office and cannot be dissolved ahead of schedule. By contrast, in parliamentary systems, the prime minister needs to survive a vote of confidence otherwise a new election must be called. The legislature can typically be dissolved at any stage during its life by the head of state, usually on the advice of either Prime Minister alone, by the Prime Minister and cabinet, or by the cabinet.
In a presidential system, the president usually has special privileges in the enactment of legislation, namely the possession of a power of veto over legislation of bills, in some cases subject to the power of the legislature by weighted majority to override the veto. The legislature and the president are thus expected to serve as checks and balances on each other's powers.

Presidential system presidents may also be given a great deal of constitutional authority in the exercise of the office of Commander in Chief, a constitutional title given to most presidents. In addition, the presidential power to receive ambassadors as head of state is usually interpreted as giving the president broad powers to conduct foreign policy. Though semi-presidential systems may reduce a president's power over day-to-day government affairs, semi-presidential systems commonly give the president power over foreign policy.

Presidential systems also have fewer ideological parties than parliamentary systems. Sometimes in the United States, the policies preferred by the two parties have been very similar (but see also polarization). In the 1950s, during the leadership of Lyndon Johnson, the Senate Democrats included the right-most members of the chamber—Harry Byrd and Strom Thurmond, and the left-most members—Paul Douglas and Herbert Lehman. This pattern does not prevail in Latin American presidential democracies.

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_system#Advantages_of_presidential_systems
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_system#Criticisms
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation
The case for a directly elected Senate
During the hearing last year of petitions challenging the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, the Supreme Court observed that the system of election to seats in parliament and the provincial assemblies reserved for women and non-Muslims was not election; it was instead selection guided by the personal likes and dislikes of party heads. These observations were made on a petition by Julius Salik, a minority leader and former federal minister, who contended before the Court that the proportional representation system introduced under Article 51 deprived the minorities of their fundamental right of electing their representatives. 
One of the judges remarked that women elected to the reserved seats were not public representatives as they came from only a few families. The final decision of the Court is still awaited, as the petitions have not been heard since the case was adjourned last October to the first week of January 2011.
The amended Article 51 is in fact a virtual reproduction of the revised version promulgated by Musharraf through the Legal Framework Order of 2002. It lays down that seats reserved for women and non-Muslims in the national and provincial assemblies are to be filled “through proportional representation system of political parties’ lists of candidates on the basis of the total number of general seats secured by each political party.” What this cumbersome and clumsy language means is that persons without party tickets cannot be elected; and since the party lists are decided by the party heads, it is they who effectively decide who gets elected to the reserved seats falling in the share of each party. And given the fact that our parties are little better than personal or family fiefdoms, this decision is taken by the party head on the basis of his personal likes and dislikes, as the Court remarked. 
What the Supreme Court said about reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies is generally true also for all seats in the Senate, which are also filled indirectly under the proportional representation system through a small electoral college consisting of members elected to general seats in the national and provincial assemblies. The fault of course lies with the narrow electoral base, not the concept of proportional representation.
The systems for the reserved seats and for the Senate are not identical, though. Election to the reserved seats is on the basis of placement on the party list, while that to the Senate is “by means of the single transferable vote.” In practice, though, the result is virtually the same: selection rather than election. 
There are two reasons for this. First, the party ticket for election to the Senate, like placement on the party list for reserved seats, is taken as the prerogative of the party head, who uses this patronage to reward personal loyalty or to recognise a generous “contribution” to party or personal coffers, rather than on the basis of popular support, competence or integrity. 
Second, the members of the national and provincial assemblies, who form the electoral college for election to the Senate, are themselves under party discipline and vote according to directions given by the party head. The result, to borrow language used by the Supreme Court for reserved seats, is that the Senate too is composed largely of members who have been selected “on the personal likes and dislikes of party heads”. 
Because the electoral college for election to the Senate is small, it has also been afflicted with all the ills associated with vote-buying. The Election Commission whose job it is to check such practices has failed in this task, despite incriminating evidence, as happened in the 2009 elections to the Senate. 
The present system of election to the Senate suffers from another serious flaw. Under the original 1973 Constitution, the fixed term for which its members were to serve was four years. In 1985, Zia raised it to six years, making it longer than the maximum tenure (five years) of the assemblies which elect them; and since elections to the Senate are staggered over three-year periods for each half of the membership, the result is that the party affiliation of at least half of the senators reflects the outcome of a general election held years earlier, not the current political mood of the electorate. 
For example, half the senators currently serving were elected in 2006 by assemblies that themselves were elected under the Musharraf regime nine years ago in 2002. Similarly, the party affiliation of senators who will be elected in 2012 and will serve till 2018 will reflect a snapshot of public opinion at the time of the general election held in 2008. In fact, the strength of the parties in the Senate after each three-yearly election can easily be predicted by simple calculations based on the results of the previous general election. Which individuals fill those seats is in the hands of the party heads. The ordinary voter has no way of influencing the outcome. Such a house can hardly claim to be democratic or representative of the people. 
Another change Zia made was to add seats in the Senate for “ulema, technocrats and other professionals.” But the Constitution does not define what a “technocrat” or professional means. The terms have been appropriated by any candidate who can lay claim, howsoever unjustifiably, to possessing a specialised educational qualification of any kind. 
There is absolutely no justification for reserving seats for this privileged category which is already overrepresented when there are none for the peasants and workers who make up the bulk of the population but have no representation. Like so many other deformities introduced by Zia into the Constitution, this one too needs to be thrown into the dustbin.
Because of the way in which the Senate is elected, it has practically become a nominated and unrepresentative upper house. Most of its members have been handpicked by dynastic party leaders and owe their sole allegiance to them. A large number are also those who have no chance of winning a seat in a popular vote, or have actually been defeated in a general election. A legislative chamber with such membership is clearly in need of a complete makeover if it is to perform any useful role in a democratic setup.
The solution to these ills is in fact quite simple: the presently indirectly elected upper house should be replaced by one which is directly elected, preferably through a system of proportional representation in which the entire province forms a single multi-member constituency. Indirect elections are always favoured by despotic and corrupt rulers because their results can be manipulated by the moneyed classes because they can easily buy votes. Whatever justification there might have been for an indirectly elected Senate in 1974, there is none now. 
A directly elected Senate would also be a more powerful chamber because of the popular mandate it will enjoy. Since all provinces have equal representation in the Senate, a more powerful upper house will also strengthen the federation by empowering the smaller provinces.
Such a reform will not be easy to push through because of powerful vested interests. In particular, the present party leaders and those sitting in the Senate who have little chance of victory in a popular vote would resist change. 
Yet, there are also quite a few senators and numerous others outside that house who see the benefits of direct election. Jan Muhammad Jamali, Deputy Chairman of the Senate, proposed in 2009 that senators should be directly elected for a six-year term with half the membership being elected every three years, and that the term of the National Assembly should be reduced to four years. This is a very reasonable proposal which should be pursued seriously and urgently. The aim should be to realise this before the next elections to the Senate, due in March 2012. Although the time is short, it can be achieved if the political will exists. 

By Asif Ezdi,The writer is a former member of the Pakistan Foreign Service.
Email: asifezdi@yahoo.com

Present political arrangements  is trash left by military dictatorship. Elections-2008 were aimed to continue with the puppet rule under US patronage. How elections held with 35 million fake voters [45% of registered voters] can result in democratic government? So what we see now is jus an illusion of democracy... some reforms are suggested... read >>>http://t.co/nWDNNWN

Must read:
Pakistan - Electoral Reforms, Mixed PR electoral system, German model is the answer to corrupted system



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