Islamabad, April 14, 2013 (PPI-OT): Learned Chief Justice and Judges of High Court of Balochistan;
District Returning Officers and Returning Officers;
It is a matter of great honour and privilege for me to address judicial officers, who have been deputed for the task of national importance, to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan in organizing and conducting General Elections 2013. Free, fair and transparent elections are constitutional dictate and the pre-requisite of democratic dispensation.
Your role to conduct elections as per the dictates of the constitution and law is very significant in institutionalizing the journey of democracy. Our country is facing various challenges including law and order situation, governance challenges, economic and energy crises, religious and ethnic extremism, etc. which block the over all socio-economic development.
The chosen representatives elected in consequence of free, fair and transparent general elections will indeed help in addressing these challenges and will strive hard in transforming the benefit of democracy to the people of Pakistan. If we fail to conduct elections in the transparent manner, the dream of sustainable democracy can not be achieved and resultantly, may damage the socio-political fabric of the society.
The conduct of free and fair election at regular interval, as per dictate of the Constitution is the pre-requisite for bringing true democracy and stability in the country. So far the fruit of the democracy has not been transformed to the society. Regrettably the history of democracy is painful and its effects have not been much beneficial for the people.
There is no cavil about that in the past, we have suffered for the reason that we were hesitant to adopt and sustain democracy as way of life and mode of governance. The country has been derailed from the path of democracy by mean of unconstitutional means. But now the golden principles of democracy that people have right to elect their representatives through adult franchise has recognized.
The law provides the people of this country, irrespective of their social ethnical status and religious affiliation, to choose their representative in whom they repose confidence. Unfortunately, women represent nearly half of the population, there is vast difference in number of women who are registered as voters against male voters.
It has often been observed time and again in our society and especially in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan that the male members of the family do not allow the females to cast their votes. The female voters are usually forced to cast their vote in favour of some particular candidates as asked by male members of their family. Due to lack of voter education, many votes are not cast or cast improperly. The female voters who are very huge segment of our population are not properly represented.
The election staff and in particular female staff deputed to assist in conducting the general elections must keep in mind this aspect of our society and work with more diligence in performance of their duties. For achieving sustainable democratic structure we have to keep in mind the importance of the voters who are the main stakeholder in the process of conducting general elections. It will not be out of place to mention the words of Sir Winston Churchill, when he said and I quote:
“At the bottom of all tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into a little booth, with a little pencil making a little cross on a little bit of paper – no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of the point.”
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The elected representatives have to perform key constitutional responsibility. It is obligation and constitutional duty upon you to hold and conduct the election in a free, fair and impartial manner. The Supreme Court has recently adjudged many cases on the aspect of right of citizens to information, as guaranteed by the Article 19-A of the Constitution.
It was observed in these judgements that the voters too have a right to know about the credentials of the contenting candidates. The Court held in the case of Mian Najeeb-ud-Din Owaisi vs. Amir Yar and othersheld that:
The voters who are about to elect their representatives are one of the most important stakeholders, therefore, to achieve the object of honest, just and fair elections, they would not constitutionally and legally allow a candidate to manage to sneak into Parliament without proving that he is qualified to represent them as such representative has to perform the noblest and honourable job of making policies and laws for the Nation.
Under Article 218 of our Constitution of Pakistan, it is responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan, to conduct and organize elections and to formulate such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that elections are conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against. Similarly, Article 220 of the Constitution bound all the federal and provincial executive authorities to assist the Election Commission in the discharge of its functions.
Therefore, all the executive authorities and Pakistani civil society should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Election Commission to safeguard the national interest. You are deputed to assist the Election Commission in the discharge of its constitutional responsibility.
You should keep in mind that conducting free and fair elections is scared duty. Being judicial officers the people of this Country have immense expectations. You have to meet these expectations with untiring efforts and dedication. I am sure that the judgments of the superior courts will provide you insight to follow and handle the issues being raised from time to time with respect to the election matters. The entire nation has focused their eyes on the conduct of general elections. I am confident that by sheer dint of your ability you will rise to the occasion.
For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001