After getting a lukewarm response from the main opposition party in the Parliament over its electoral reforms project, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has started weighing its options.
Sources told The Express Tribune on Saturday that the PTI was considering various alternatives – including introducing a bill in the National Assembly for electoral reforms.
The PTI had approached the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) some two weeks ago in order to muster support and put pressure on the government over alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections.
The party is holding rallies across the country over the issue and has also demanded that members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) voluntarily step down as they had failed to hold free and fair elections in the country.
The PPP had agreed with the PTI to join hands to the extent of working on electoral reforms in the country but had fallen short of supporting its demand for resignations of ECP members.
Interestingly, only a few days before the meeting between leaders of the two parties, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah had also demanded that the ECP members step down.
However, a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former president and PPP’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari helped in changing the stance of the main opposition party.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) had endorsed the PTI’s viewpoint and nominated its three members for the committee proposed by the PTI for working on electoral reforms.
The three-member team of the PTI including its Vice President Shah Mahmood Qureshi, President Javed Hashmi and General Secretary Jehangir Tareen had held meetings with leaders of both the parties on May 14 when the PPP had said it would nominate two members for the committee.
However, that did not happen. When contacted for confirmation, PTI Vice President Qureshi said the PPP had not nominated any member as yet. Sources said the PPP was perhaps shying away therefore the PTI was considering tabling a bill on the subject.
According to Qureshi, the committee proposed by the PTI was supposed to examine existing laws, to develop a course of action on the basis of the 2013 general elections and to develop national consensus on electoral reform.
The PML-Q had nominated two of its members for the committee, Senator Kamil Ali Agha and Tariq Bashir Cheema, while the PTI had nominated Dr Arif Alvi and Shafqat Mehmood.
Syed Khursheed Shah from the PPP, however, said his party would announce two members after consultation.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2014.