Islamabad, April 08, 2013 (PPI-OT):
Learned Chief Justice and Judges of Peshawar High Court;
District Returning Officers and Returning Officers;
It is a matter of great honour and privilege for me to be here at Peshawar to address judicial officers, who have been assigned a very delicate task to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct and organize General Elections for National as well as Provincial Assembly. Free, fair and transparent elections are constitutional obligation and the core attribute of democracy.
Being an important nation of the international polity, Pakistan is the only Muslim country with nuclear power. Its stability is important both at the national as well as international level. The international community would also be keenly concerned about the democratic process in our country. World has become a global village. The stability of one nation has direct as well as indirect impacts on the stability of other nations. Therefore, the free and fair elections are pre-requisite for bringing the true democracy in the country. It is not only in our own interest but also in the interest of international community.
The chosen representatives elected as a result of free and fair general elections will indeed help in shaping the destiny of our nation, especially when we are at the cross road of our national history, where we are facing many threats and challenges like deteriorating law and order situation, energy crises, dismal socio-economic development, etc. In case of failure to conduct the elections in free and fair manner sustainable democratic structure can not be established, which may result in the political chaos.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The fruits of socio-economic development can not be achieved in absence of democratic governance, because the development of the country is very much dependent on the proper representation of its people through the chosen representatives.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan adjudged many cases on the aspect of right of citizens to information, as guaranteed by the Article 19-A of the Constitution. By virtue of the right to information and other legal provisions, this Court observed 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.
As per Article 218 of our Constitution of Pakistan, it is obligatory on the Election Commission of Pakistan, to organize and conduct the elections and to make 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.
The Election Commission needs institutional support for performance of its duty. You are deployed in the election process to assist the Election Commission to safeguard the national interest. You have to meet this challenge with untiring efforts. The judgments of the Superior Court will provide you insight to follow and handle the issues being raised from time to time with respect to the election matters. In one of a case on the importance of free and fair elections, Supreme Court of Pakistan observed that:
There can be no escape from the fact that a free, fair, just and transparent election is the very heart of our democratic system, as envisaged by the Constitution. Such elections must not only be held in a fair, just and honest manner but also appear to be so; in order to inspire the confidence of the electorate.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The role of every voter is very much important in bringing the true democracy. It is the participation of very individual which would create the change. They will use their right of vote to choose their representatives, which is provided in our Objectives Resolution. Here I remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt, he said and I quote:
“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the user.”
Every individual has the right to vote irrespective of his gender, caste or creed. It has often been observed in our society 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. Lack of education of females further aggravates the situation when many of the votes are casted wrongly. Therefore, the female voters who are very huge segment and more than half of our population are not properly represented. The 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.
Being District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and Assistant Retuning Officers, you must perform your duties as provided under the law. In the landmark judgment of Anita Turab, Supreme Court of Pakistan has stressed for the protection of the civil servants of this country. They should not work on the basis of illegal orders of their seniors rather they should work according to law.
No body would courage to interfere and abuse the Constitutional obligation of Election Commission of Pakistan to hold the general elections in a free, fair and transparent manner. You, as members of the judiciary are given an important task to conduct the election in a free, fair and impartial manner, and in doing so, you should not be influenced by the consideration.
You should remain neutral and be effective in performing of duty. You should set an example for others to follow. Should you remain neutral and fair, no one can raise a finger against you. The judiciary will also protect you against false or malicious allegations. In performing functions DROs and ROs, you are rendering a unique service to the nation. The judiciary is proud of you.
For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001