The Need for Reforms in the Light of 2013 Report of the Election Commission of Pakistan

Ilhan Niaz



Pakistan has struggled to develop a legitimate and stable constitutional order since it gained independence from British rule. An important aspect of this problem has been the persistent inability of Pakistani governments to conduct elections that are sufficiently fair at the procedural level so that the losing parties concede the legitimacy of the outcome. Since 2008, Pakistan has experienced two election cycles (2013/2018) and has witnessed the promising development of periodic change of civilian leadership through the ballot box. In spite of this, however, each election cycle has brought with it allegations of pre-poll and poll-day rigging, maladministration of the electoral process, and a refusal to accept the outcome as legitimate on part of the losing parties. The result is that the electoral process in Pakistan generally fails to produce the required sense of democratic legitimacy and the government is beset by challenges to the authenticity of its mandate. This paper contends that the 2013 elections and the subsequent report of the Election Commission of Pakistan lays bare the relationship between civilian administrative failure and the highly problematic conduct of elections. Unless this failure is addressed mere repetition of the electoral exercise will not produce a greater degree of democratic legitimacy for the winners.


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