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114 Pakistani political parties may be barred from contesting 2013 election

Maverick Report

ISLAMABAD: According to a list issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 114 out of 216 registered political parties are likely to be barred from participating in 2013 general election, as they failed to hold the intra-party elections.

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The ECP had already said that political parties failing to submit certificates of intra-party elections and statements of accounts will not be allowed to contest upcoming general election.

The list issued by the commission said that the country’s major political parties like Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) are among the leading parties that have yet to hold intra-party elections and submit the relevant documents to the ECP.

As per its rules, the ruling PPP is bound to hold intra-party elections after every two years, however, it failed to hold intra-party elections since 2006.

In December last year, the ECP said that election symbols would not be allotted to the parties which failed to furnish the details of their accounts and proof of intra-party elections and thus those parties would be barred from taking part in the polls.

The media reports say that PML-Q held intra-party elections in 2009, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamaat-e-Islami held intra-party elections in 2012 and the PML-N did so last year, while the PTI is scheduled to hold the intra-party elections in Punjab by January 19 as it has announced to complete the exercise prior to the general elections.

Article 14 of the Political Parties Order 2002 says a political party shall be eligible to obtain an election symbol to contest the elections on submission of certificates and statements under Articles 12 and 13, which call for submission of related documents. According to the order, when any political party or a combination of political parties collectively contravenes the provisions of Articles 12 and 13, it shall not be entitled to obtain a symbol for election.

The ruling PPP with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as its chairman does not exist in the eyes of law as it is not registered with the ECP and cannot contest the 2013 election and may contest the election with the nomenclature of the PPP-Parliamentarians (PPP-P) led by Makhdoom Amin Fahim, as it did in 2002 and 2008.

The party had got registered with the ECP as PPP-P prior to the 2002 election because the PPP then headed by Benazir Bhutto was ineligible to qualify for registration due to its chairperson’s absence from Pakistan. The government of Pervez Musharraf had made it mandatory that the chief of a party seeking registration with the ECP to qualify for contesting election should be present in Pakistan.

Commenting on the registration of political parties, ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan said that on an average 15 new political parties sought registration every month. Although forming an association is a fundamental right, he said, some standards would have to be set to check mushroom growth of parties.

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