ANI Photo | Pakistan: Top lawyers’ bodies raise concerns over poll procedure, conduct of Chief Election Commissioner

Top lawyers’ bodies in Pakistan have raised concerns over the poll procedure and the conduct of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, Dawn newspaper reported.
Dawn is a Pakistani English-language newspaper.
The concerns have been expressed by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) and the Punjab Bar Council (PbBC).
The top bodies representing the legal fraternity underscored the need for a level playing field and equal opportunities for all stakeholders in the general election scheduled to be held on February 8.
As per a press statement, SCBA President Shahzad Shaukat and Secretary Syed Ali Imran expressed deep concern regarding “mounting discrepancies in election procedures, delimitations and seat allocation” during the 26th executive committee of the association.
They also raised “serious questions about the transparency of elections” under the incumbent CEC.
The two expressed concerns about the commission’s “competence in terms of rising discrepancies in the electoral process close to upcoming elections, which raises valid doubts about jeopardising the fairness and impartiality of the electoral process,” the SCBA statement said.
It highlighted that the association “asserts that elections are the cornerstone of the democratic process in the country and must be held on time”.
It said: “Mere adherence to election timelines without addressing grievances may undermine stability rather than contribute to it.” It added that the failure to address discrepancies in the electoral process earlier had not only harmed the country but also risked the failure of “achieving meaningful results”.
“Therefore, it is imperative to address these issues effectively to safeguard both the democratic process and national resources,” it pointed out.
It further said that polls should be conducted in a free, fair, and transparent manner while providing equal opportunities to all stakeholders.
“However, SCBA believes that to achieve the aforesaid objectives, the present CEC should go home as under him, fair and impartial elections with equal opportunity for all, are not possible,” the statement concluded, as per Dawn.
In a separate statement, PBC Chairman Hasan Raza Pasha and Vice Chairman Haroonur Rashid raised similar concerns and highlighted the growing perception that elections could not be conducted freely and fairly under CEC Raja.
“A glaring example is the matter of allocation of two National Assembly seats to the CEC’s own native district Jhelum, with a population of 1,382,000 while district Hafizabad, with a population of around 1,320,000, is allocated only one seat,” they said, adding that a similar imbalance was also observed in the allocation of seats for Rawalpindi.
The statement noted that despite its lower population compared to the Gujranwala division, an additional seat had been allocated to Rawalpindi, raising questions about the transparency of the electoral process, as per Dawn.

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