Around the globe, the extent to which a country‘s elections are conducted properly are measured against three primary ―benchmarks.‖ Initially, electoral processes are considered for whether they have been implemented in manner consistent with a state‘s election law. In turn, that law is evaluated against its consistency with best practices in election administration and for whether it meets a country‘s international legal obligations. Since mid-2009, the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) has been assessing Pakistan‘s election law within the Election Law Reform Project. Through the initiatives of this project, it has and will continue to assess the components of election law for how they might be improved. While pushing for reform within the three principal parts of election law—the Constitution, election-related legislation, and election regulations—this report focuses on needed reform to Pakistan‘s election legislation alone.
The report is constituted of three principal sections—sections that offer important building blocks for a comprehensive electoral reform process.
Section I – Unifying Pakistan’s Election Legislation: A first section provides an accumulation of a currently inaccessible and fragmented set of laws making up the country‘s election legislation. The section not only offers an assessment of the benefits of unifying this legislation into a single Act, but constructs a Unified Election Bill based on present election-related Acts and Orders while providing decision makers with an important tool by which this Bill can be made into law. Perhaps of greatest importance is that the drafters of the Bill were issued specific instructions to unify the country‘s current legislation without altering its content. To the greatest extent possible, the Bill offers an accurate representation Pakistan‘s current electoral legislation.
Section II – 18th Amendment Changes to a Unified Bill: In March 2010, the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms issued its draft of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution proposing more than 100 changes to the Constitution. With its passing, the 18th Amendment introduced a series of changes that require reform within the country‘s current election-related legislation. A second section of this report focuses on the changes to legislation dictated by the 18th Amendment and applies them to the Unified Election Bill constructed in Section I of this report, offering another tool to facilitate the unification of Pakistan‘s election legislation.
Section III – Proposed Revisions to a Unified Election Bill: A final section turns to the content of the current election legislation as presented within the Unified Election Bill as developed in Sections I and II in order to recommend changes to election law that augment its consistency with both best practices in election administration and international legal obligations. Section III offers a series of model provisions within twelve parts of the electoral process, advocating for the implementation of these provisions by offering clear justification for why each should become part of Pakistan‘s election law.
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