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Transformative period of ECP: To strengthen the country’s electoral and democratic system
By Kashif Mirza

Byadmin

Jul 26, 2023

The writer is an

economist, anchor,

analyst and the

President of All

 Pakistan Private

Schools’ Federation

president@Pakistan

privateschools.com

Management is all about arranging and telling, whereas, leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. Pakistan is not a poor country, but poorly managed. Nature has blessed Pakistan with abundant resources, but unfortunately, the wrong people on the wrong jobs with bad policies and poorly managed plans let it down to the category of a Third World country. So, the country itself is not poor, it’s all about the management that we are still facing these challenges. It has failed to capitalize on and materialize the level of its governance. Understanding the dynamics of an unpredictable world is important, especially as unilateral actions by big powers and populist leaders, which mark their policies, have implications for Pakistan. In evolving its policy strategy Pakistan has to match its goals to its human and economic resources and capital. No strategy is effective unless ends and means are aligned. So Pakistan needs leaders and leadership requires wisdom, understanding, out-of-box solutions, forbearance, and accountability. A boss typically is someone who uses their authority or power to control people to act in a particular way, whereas a leader seeks to influence others through their actions. There are many inspirational stories of how leaders are able to transform organizations in different ways. Today’s inspirational story is all about such a leader who seeks to influence others through their actions. Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan’s tenure as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of Pakistan marked a transformative period in the country’s electoral landscape. His visionary leadership and dedication to upholding the principles of democracy significantly contributed to the progress and modernization of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan’s impactful role as CEC highlights the key initiatives and reforms undertaken by the ECP during his tenure to strengthen electoral processes and promote democratic values. Mr. Raja, a seasoned civil servant with an illustrious career, assumed the position of Chief Election Commissioner. His appointment was met with widespread acclaim due to his reputation for integrity, impartiality, and commitment to democratic principles. As the head of the ECP, Mr. Sultan faced numerous challenges but was determined to navigate them with transparency and fairness. Under Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan’s leadership, the ECP embarked on a comprehensive electoral reform program aimed at modernizing the electoral process and making it more transparent, inclusive, and efficient. The initiatives undertaken included: Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) by recognizing the need for modernizing the voting process, the ECP initiated pilot projects for EVMs in select constituencies. The introduction of EVMs aimed to reduce electoral fraud, enhance the accuracy of results, and expedite the vote-counting process. To ensure the credibility of voters’ identities, the ECP introduced biometric verification for eligible voters in certain constituencies. Biometric verification minimized the risk of impersonation and strengthened the integrity of the electoral rolls. Mr. Sultan championed voter education and awareness campaigns to inform citizens about their electoral rights and responsibilities. These campaigns aimed to increase voter turnout and civic engagement among diverse segments of society. He emphasized the importance of inclusive electoral participation, ensuring that all eligible citizens, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, had equal opportunities to vote and be represented in the democratic process. 

Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan’s tenure as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of Pakistan marked a transformative period in the country’s electoral landscape. His visionary leadership and dedication to upholding the principles of democracy significantly contributed to the progress and modernisation of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).  

It is extremely important that we continue our journey of reforming and improving our electoral system and strength to a democratic system, and to make ECP a more vibrant and progressive election management body that delivers its constitutional mandate of organizing and conducting elections honestly, justly, fairly and guarding against corrupt practices, having the complete trust of the people and contributing towards a stronger democracy in Pakistan. The ECP undertook several initiatives to foster inclusivity, such as: Recognising the underrepresentation of women in politics, the ECP encouraged political parties to increase women’s participation in electoral processes. The commission worked to facilitate women candidates and promote their engagement in political activities. Engaging the youth in the democratic process was a priority during Mr. Sultan’s tenure. The ECP collaborated with educational institutions to promote civic education and encourage youth to participate actively in electoral activities. Ensuring free and fair elections was a top priority for Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan. The ECP collaborated with local and international organizations to conduct rigorous election monitoring and observation, safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process. International observers lauded the transparency and integrity of the electoral process during his tenure. To expedite the resolution of electoral disputes and uphold the rule of law, the ECP under Mr. Sultan’s guidance established special election tribunals. These tribunals ensured swift and fair resolution of electoral complaints, enhancing public trust in the democratic process. Recognizing the significance of maintaining a level playing field, the ECP developed a comprehensive electoral code of conduct that political parties, candidates, and media outlets were required to adhere to. This code aimed to curb unethical practices and maintain the sanctity of the electoral process. Under Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan’s leadership, the ECP actively engaged with international electoral bodies and participated in various forums to exchange best practices and learn from global experiences. This international collaboration strengthened the ECP’s capacity and enriched its knowledge base. His commitment to transparency, fairness, and inclusivity contributed to a stronger electoral process that inspired public confidence and trust in democracy. The reforms and initiatives undertaken during his ongoing tenure set a precedent for future electoral commissioners, ensuring the continued progress of the ECP and the promotion of democratic values in Pakistan. Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan’s exemplary role as Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan during his tenure marked a significant era in the evolution of the Election Commission of Pakistan. His vision for modernizing electoral processes, promoting inclusivity, and upholding democratic principles set the foundation for a more robust and transparent electoral system. The ECP’s special initiatives under his leadership not only strengthened electoral integrity but also empowered citizens to actively participate in the democratic process. The uphill task of conducting credible elections can only be attained by adhering highest level of transparency and use of state-of-the-art technologies. It is the Commission’s endeavor to ensure merit and the rule of law in the discharge of duties. Electioneering is a continuous process and ECP itself is going through important evolutionary changes. Taking meaningful steps for improvement will enhance voters’ trust in the whole democratic process. An important aspect of bringing into the voters’ fold is involving our youth. The role of youth in strengthening the democratic values of a country is imperative. For the first time, ECP conducted around 264 mass students’ Voter Education and Awareness sessions in a short time period of 5 months across the country in major universities and colleges to mainstream the youth into the electoral process and sensitize them on the power of the ballot. Students’ voter education & awareness campaign will continue till General Election -2023. ECP is equally sensitized on the participation of marginalized, and vulnerable groups in the electoral process and making it inclusive and thereby strengthening the credibility of our Elections. As per the Strategic plan of ECP 2019-2023, ECP has taken special measures and improved our administrative functions through the review and rationalization of posts, induction of professional trainers, and Human Resources including more women. To modernize the electoral process using enabling different technologies, ECP expanded its IT Wing and established PMU for the latest technologies including overseas voters and EVMs. Media Wing has been expanded into Media Communication and Outreach Wing. A new Monitoring & Evaluation Wing is being set up. A Research and Development Center is in place and the digital footprint is being enhanced.

Pakistan has to pursue its national goals in an unsettled global and regional environment marked by several key features. They include rising East-West tensions, increasing preoccupation of big powers with domestic challenges, ongoing trade and technology wars overlying the strategic competition between China and the US, a fraying rules-based international order, and attempts by regional and other powers to reshape the rules of the game in their neighborhood. Leadership is one of the most fundamental components of a successful organization. An organization with strong leadership is not only able to achieve its goals but also ensures that its success will be sustainable for a long period of time. The concept of leadership is not straightforward and people are often confused regarding what it means to be a leader. It is a common misconception, that leadership can only succeed when a person has significant power or authority. Moreover, people fall for the fallacy that bosses and leaders are synonymous with one another when in reality they are very different. People get more confidence when they are trusted with important decisions and leaders ensure that they create an environment where people are able to succeed in their tasks by providing the necessary support. Pakistan is a great country with tremendous resources regarding minerals, water resources, land, good industries, strong manpower, flourishing weather, and all those blessings which any developed country can have, but unfortunately, wrong people on wrong jobs with bad policies and poorly managed plans let it down to the category of a Third World country. So, the country itself is not poor, it’s all about the management that we are still facing these challenges. In an increasingly multipolar world, Pakistan needs to raise its democratic, political, economic, and diplomatic game by vigorous outreach to other key countries and actors beyond governments to secure its national goals through planning, good governance, and management. For all these, Pakistan has a constitutional commitment to conduct free, fair, and transparent elections. Under the leadership of  Mr. Sultan, his legacy and contributions to CEC will always be remembered as a pivotal chapter in Pakistan’s democratic journey, exemplifying the spirit of transparency, accountability, and progress in electoral governance, and ECP would take all necessary actions to enhance the trust of all stakeholders and especially the voters. May Allah bless our homeland Pakistan and make our nation great and strong. No strategy is effective unless ends and means are aligned. So Pakistan needs a team of leaders like Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan, whose exemplary role as Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan during his tenure marked a significant era in the evolution of the Election Commission of Pakistan. That team of leaders can grow, achieve and boast the rate of education, political and economic stability, and other national goals, with his expertise, experience, invaluable insights, inspiring ideas, and best practices. Because before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself, but when you become a leader, success is all about growing others. Keeping in view all the above efforts, it could be said with full conviction that Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan is a person in Pakistan who practically proved his leadership quality and experience. This also proves that Pakistan is not a poor country, but, poorly managed. Pakistan needs only visionary and good leaders like Mr. Raja Sikander Sultan. Indeed, Pakistan needs leaders, not bosses!

By admin

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