ISLAMABAD: Calling for meaningful electoral reforms in the country, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has urged political parties to focus on ‘real issues’ of the people as the latest by-elections offered ‘little to cheer for democracy’.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz reclaimed the coveted NA-122 Lahore seat on October 11 in a close contest with the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf after days of mudslinging against each other.
In a statement issued on Monday, the commission welcomed the result “as long as it promotes the democratic process” but pointed out that the exercise under military supervision was not in accordance with democratic principles.
“Several other elements in the by-election offered little to cheer for democracy,” the HRCP stated. Even if the NA-122 by-election was a matter of prestige for both the PTI and the PML-N, the election was still very expensive, it said.
Questioning the pompous electioneering campaigns, the commission said an election where so much money is spent not only raises questions about democratic principles but also reinforces the belief that only the rich can afford to contest them.
According to the HRCP, except for the polls being held in a peaceful matter, there was hardly anything to cherish about the exercise where both the rival parties indulged in personal attacks and ignored significant issues.
“People have far important issues than clashes of inflated egos and ear-splitting indulgence in self-righteousness,” the statement read.
Amid growing hostility among the political parties, the HRCP feared that substantial reforms in the election system were becoming difficult to achieve and asked the political parties to collaborate with each other in order to strengthen civilian institutions.
After criticism from opposition parties over the election commission’s failure to transparently conduct the 2013 general elections, the government had formed a parliamentary panel comprising members from all representative parties to come up with recommendations for electoral reforms.
The committee constituted in August 2014 was supposed to complete its work within four months. It is still deliberating on the package.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2015.