Pakistan is democratic country that has witnessed intermittent elections due to repeated military takeovers. Due to this, the continuity of political processes, democratic development and institutional building in the country remained a dream. In 2013, country experienced the smooth transfer of power from one democratic regime to another because of hence to supposedly transparent, free, and fair General Elections 2013. Nevertheless, currently Pakistan is witnessing political crisis owing to alleged rigging in May 2013 General Elections invoked by some opposition political parties. The accusations and counter accusations have to be judged by the competent commission. However, the alleged or one can say a possible rigging in elections are mainly due to either non-availability or due to non-implementation of strong and effective legal framework related with electoral processes. The laws related with conduct of elections, political finances, and political parties are name of the few. The democratic development of Pakistan being in transition phase, there is need of electoral reforms that must include the requirement of enactment of new laws for political finance regulations and the steps taken to implement the existing one with letter and spirit. Pakistan legal framework for political finance regulation provides for three things, for instance, the prohibitions, limitations, and disclosure. If we review the existing laws, the legal provisions are either vague or incomplete and if available are partially implemented or mostly not implemented at all. Political parties and individual candidates spend funds on electoral campaign which are not strictly monitored according to law by concerned authority. According to law, as stipulated in sections 5 and 6 of ‘The Political Parties Order 2002, the political parties have to maintain bank accounts for party funds, contributions, and disbursement and to submit to ECP annual record. Similarly, sections 49 of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976, provides for limitation of election expenses to 1.5 million through a valid single bank account for a candidate contesting elections for National Assembly seat and limitation of election expenses of 1 million for a contesting candidate of Provincial Assembly seat. Additionally, section 50 of the ROPA 1976 provides for maintenance and return of election expenses constituted of contributions made and expenditures incurred to returning officers. As a matter of practice, after elections only few of the electoral candidates submit returns to ECP. Nevertheless, the returned candidates have to submit election expanses returns unless their official notification of being returned candidates is held by ECP. But, such returns are not counter verified during or after elections. Resultantly, there are observed several incidents of violations of election laws related with election spending. There is need to implement the existing political finance regulations and to enact the ones that are missing to make electoral process of Pakistan more robust, strong and independent of any influences. The need of enactment of new laws would be covered in subsequent blogs.
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