A Timeline of Pakistan Election Law
With the Pakistani government recently electing a new prime minister, we wanted to write an article looking at the history of Pakistan election law. A lot has changed since the first iteration of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) came into existence on 23rd March 1956, some nine years after the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was first founded. This was the same year which saw during which the second constituent assembly adopted the first Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In the constitution, article 137 of constitutional law stated that the Election Commission would comprise of a chief election commissioner, a chairman of the commission and any number of collection commissioners as would be determined by the president at that time.
The Election Commissioner would be responsible for duties of preparing electoral rolls, the revision of laws and conducting election assemblies. A couple of years later, Marshall Law was imposed and the Constitution abrogated. As a consequence, the Election Commission also ceased to exist. Moving forward four years and a second constitution was put in place. This time round, the Chief Election Commissioner would be appointed by the president of Pakistan for a three-year term and perks and privileges were enjoyed similar to that of a Judge of a Supreme Court. The rest of the Election Commission constituted of two members, one from the east and another from the west of Pakistan who also were Judges of their respective High Courts.
An update to the Constitution was seen in 1973 which saw the Election Commission to consist of a Chairman, Chief Election Commissioner and two members who again were Judges of the High Courts. The 18th Amendment of the Constitution provided further changes, allowing for consultative roles of appointment to be added to in the Election Commission. Further changes were made through the 1970s and 1980s in order to further decentralise the process of selecting members of the Election Committee, making it fairer for all parties involved.
Some of the more recent changes to the way elections work in Pakistan have come with the ECP announcing that a clause is to be added in the code of conduct for elections. It has enforced a fixed maximum expenditure limit of Rs 1.5 million for any campaign to National Assembly and Rs 1 million for any Provincial Assembly seat. The adjustments come into play following recent opinions showing that standing launching such political campaigns was a game affordable only by the super-wealthy. These adjustments come with several others which are being put in place in order to maintain transparency for elections which, in the past, had never been accepted by members of the losing parties.
A major concern is that rules have bypassed by individuals with considerable influence, financial or otherwise. Further measures put in place include a ban on setting up of camp at polling stations, putting a limit on the size of posters to be used in hoardings and a ban on long car processions. As these adjustments to modern Pakistani election law are implemented, we can only hope that things will continue to improve in fairness and transparency for future of the country.
This story was written by Jim Loxley, Director of car accident compensation claims specialist, My Compensation.