19 declarations removed from Nomination Forms for Election 2018 - BY: Nizami Khaled

Those contesting in the 2018 general elections would no longer be required to declare their Iqama (work permit) in their nomination forms and subsequently would have no legal repercussions for concealment of their assets, tax evasion or any other mis-declaration. The Electoral Reforms Committee deleted 19 declarations on oath from nomination papers in the Elections Act 2017 which were mandatory for a candidate in the past.

Elections experts and analysts say the loophole will help tax evaders, criminals, loan defaulters, and dual nationals to contest general elections and become part of Parliament. Kunwar Dilshad, former secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), pointed out to this correspondent that while former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif were disqualified from holding any public office for concealing their Iqamas and foreign assets in their nomination papers. Those elected in the forthcoming general elections would not face any such scrutiny and legal action by any court due to deletion of certain requirements from the nomination papers, he said.

"The parliamentary parties have abolished all checks and balances for candidates to contest elections in the name of electoral reforms," he said, adding that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is virtually toothless now in terms of scrutiny of the candidates. Dilshad said Parliament has made the nomination form part of the Elections Act 2017 and the ECP cannot make any changes to it.

ECP has convened a meeting on Monday (today) to devise a strategy to effectively scrutinize nomination papers of candidates for general elections. Officials from National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), State Bank of Pakistan, Sui Gas, and WAPDA will attend the meeting.

An official of the ECP told Business Recorder that the ECP has full authority under Article 218 of the Constitution to scrutinize nomination papers of the candidates. He said that all Returning Officers (ROs) would be empowered to get necessary information about a candidate from relevant institutions to undertake scrutiny of the nomination papers. "It shall be the duty of the ECP to organize and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against," stipulates Article 218 of the Constitution.

Following declarations have been deleted from the oath a candidate had to make in previous elections:

1) Declaration on outstanding loans from any bank, financial institution, cooperative society or corporate body in the candidate's name or in the name of his/her spouse or any dependents.

2) Declaration on default in payment of government dues or utility charges.

3) List containing names of spouse(s) and dependents.

4) Declaration about companies owned by the candidate or his/her spouse and dependents.

5) Declaration of pending cases of criminal offences.

6) Declaration of education qualification.

7) Declaration of present occupation.

8) National tax number.

9) Declaration of income tax paid during the last three years (along with total income and source of income).

10) Declaration of travel abroad during last three years.

11) Declaration of agriculture income tax paid (along with land holding and agriculture income).

12) Declaration of important contribution made by the candidate for the benefit of candidate's constituency if elected previously.

13) Declaration of sum paid to any political party that awarded the ticket to candidate.

14) Declaration of sum received from any political party that awarded the ticket.

15) Declaration to abide by the code of conduct issued by the ECP.

16) Declaration of net assets of current financial year and previous year; and difference in the net assets (only current financial year's value of assets and liabilities had to be provided).

17) Declaration of foreign passport detail from statement of assets.

18) Declaration of personal expenditure detail from statement of liabilities.

19) Statement on oath that the candidate is a citizen of Pakistan and does not carry any other nationality.

Posted on May 11, 18 | 11:12 am