ISLAMABAD: Charter of Demand (COD) between the country’s two big alliances of APDM and ARD revealed that it could have achieved far-reaching and effective results of holding of fair, free and transparent elections if both the alliances had looked for a middle way to sorted out their differences. The full text of Charter of Demand included such clauses that if implemented, it would have certainly washed out all doubts and reservations about holding of fair and free election in the country. The doubts and reservations which raised by both the former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawz Sharif recently would have been vanished as suggestions have been mentioned in the COD to remove these suspicions and reservations.
It demanded the Election Commission for the immediate appointments of impartial and non-controversial officers to the positions Interior Secretary, DGIB, Chief Secretaries, Home Secretaries, I.G Police, D.I.Gs, DPOs and DCOs.
The eight-member Committee for the preparation of the Charter of Demands was constituted on December 3 at a joint meeting of the ARD and the APDM that included Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Ahsan Iqbal, Senator Abdul Rahim Mandokhail, Senator Prof. Khurshid Ahmed for the APDM while Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, Senator Dr. Safdar Ali Abbasi, Naveed Malik and Abdul Qadir Khamoosh for the ARD. On December 4 Hasil Bezenjo informed Senator Mian Raza Rabbani that he will be attending the meetings representing Ponum.
There points were included in the Terms of Reference of the Committee. First the draft Charter of Demands for free and fair elections and to suggest a cut-off date for its implementation; second to suggest an organizational structure for the Joint Opposition in struggle and third to suggest a structure of Government to hold free and fair election in a post Musharraf scenario.
The Committee met on December 4, 5 and 6 and formulated various suggestions, stated in the COD’s Annexures A, B and C respectively. It demanded that the Declaration of Emergency be withdrawn and the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) be reworked.
The 1973 Constitution as on 12th October 1999 before the military coup shall be restored with the provisions of joint elections, minorities, women’s reserved seats on closed party list in the Parliament, the lowering of the voting age, and the increase in seats in Parliament; the Legal Framework Order, 2000 and the 17th Constitutional Amendment shall be repealed.
Impartial interim Governments of national consensus should be formed at the Federal and Provincial levels and neutral Provincial Governors be appointed in consultation with all political parties to supervise free, fair and transparent election in accordance with the Constitution.
COD also demanded that the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and reconstitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan should be done in consultation with all the major stakeholders; that the Nazims and the Local Governments should be suspended immediately till the formation of Federal and Provincial Governments; that all Improvised poling stations should be de-notified with immediate effect; that the bulk transfers of judicial, administrative and police officers made in one month prior to the dissolution of the Federal/Provincial Governments and those made till date should be reversed to status quo immediately. Neutral Registrars should be appointed in the High Courts.
That the ban on elections and print media should be lifted with immediate effect. All ordinances meant to gag the media should be withdrawn; That all Judges, political workers, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and civil society members should be released immediately and all cases against them withdrawn.
The Committee also suggested that there should be an effective mechanism to check ballot stuffing, tampering, violence on election day, eviction of polling agents from poling stations, delays it results announcement and result not announced and mechanism for result to be announced at the District level, should be devised in consultation with the political parties.
It further suggested that preliminary count should be conducted at the polling station and subsequently at the District level by the RO, reducing chances of counting fraud; and arrangements be made for independent and unhindered monitoring of elections by national and international observers and media.
The Committee also referred two points for the consideration of the leadership of the two Alliances for final decision. Differences however, rose between the two alliances regarding the deadline given to the government for restoration of the judiciary. The APDM declares that if these demands are not met by December 14 to 26, it would be forced to boycott the elections and launch a national movement for the restoration of genuine democracy through holding of truly free, fair and transparent elections.
While the ARD was however not in favour of giving any deadline for restoration of the judiciary and was of the view that if the elections were rigged if the regime or Elections Commission fails to fulfill the Charter of Demands as agreed between ARD and APDM it reserves the right to resist it through a popular movement or boycott.
Political pundits are of the view that if both the alliances had succeeded in shrugging off differences, it would have certainly paved way for holding of fair, free and transparent elections in the country. They also held the two former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif responsible for having lost such a golden opportunity to implement the Charter of Demand in true spirit.-SANA