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EDITORIAL: ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) has done the right thing by seeking details of defaulters of government dues and utility bills before nomination papers are filed and the exercise of scrutiny of papers of contestants for national and provincial assemblies is initiated. With preparations for the February elections in full swing, ECP is poised to issue the official programme shortly.

The law requires that candidates and their spouses or any other dependents should not have defaulted in payments of government dues and utility expenses, including telephone, electricity, gas and water charges in excess of Rs10,000, for over six months, at the time of filing of nomination papers.

Since all such information is meant to facilitate returning officers at the time of scrutiny of said papers, all relevant organisations have been directed to provide lists of defaulters in time.

It’s important for such bits and pieces of information to filter through to the press at this time. Already, the rumour mill has gone active once again, suggesting another delay in the polls. If such speculation is not checked immediately, it will fuel instability and irritate international donors whose bailout packages are keeping the economy from defaulting. And let’s not forget that political stability, through free, fair and transparent elections and a subsequent stable government, is their core demand.

ECP’s posture must, therefore, indicate business as usual. Once vetting of all candidates is complete and the schedule is presented to the public, there’ll be nothing left except for political parties to finalise their manifestos and begin their campaigns. That will be enough to put an end to all the unnecessary noise.

But it will be important for ECP not to leave any loopholes. There’s no doubt that defaulters should not be allowed to contest, especially since the black and white of the law also demands it, but it will still be important not to include candidates who have contested allegations against them and whose cases are presently sub-judice.

Now that the next stop, for all intents and purposes, is the election itself, ECP must be credited for keeping a level head and concentrating on the job at hand despite all the allegations levelled against it over the past couple of years.

It’s a shame that some political parties played the lead role in the attempt to discredit the election watchdog. In the end they only created controversy that harmed the process of elections itself.

Hopefully, there will be no further roadblocks on the path to the general election. There’s no denying that the country suffered the kind of political polarity and instability over the last couple of years that hasn’t been seen since the country broke apart more than half a century ago.

The country needs its people to select from honest candidates so a stable government can be formed, one that will take the kind of tough decisions needed to put it on the path to peace and growth once again.

All eyes are, therefore, on ECP. If it cannot hold credible elections, then everything will fall apart.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Zia Ullah Khan Dec 03, 2023 12:43pm
So the Editor wants us to forget the ECP role in not holding Punjab and KPK elections, delaying National elections beyond constitutional 90 days and creating level playing field for PMLN at the cost of PTI.
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zh Dec 03, 2023 09:57pm
If he had brains, the Munshi of ECP would eliminate non-taxpayers from the general's election.
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