What are the extensive powers prescribed for caretaker prime minister?

 Major changes have been introduced through the Election Act Amendment Bill 2023, granting extensive powers to the caretaker prime minister as Pakistan gets ready for the general elections after transfer of power to the interim setup with the current National Assembly, like the provincial legislatures will complete their tenure next month.

That’s why the government failed to push the bill through the joint sitting of Parliament on Monday as members from the both sides of the aisle raised serious objections over the changes suggested in the Election Act, 2017.

The proposed changes in Sub-Clause 2 A of Section 230 means the caretaker prime minister would have more powers in financial and economic affairs, including the authority to make important decisions and sign agreements with the international institutions and foreign governments.

At the same time, the caretaker government has been assigned with more overall powers related to the government affairs in the draft legislation that contains 54 amendments.

An important amendment in the election law says the delimitation process for national and provincial assemblies’ constituencies on the basis of equal number of registered voters, meaning that the door for haphazard size of constituencies has been closed.

The delimitation is to be completed four months before elections and the difference in number of voters between any two constituencies won’t exceed 5 per cent while complaints could be filed within days of announcement of new delimitations by the ECP.

Meanwhile, the bill makes it mandatory for presiding officer to transmit the copy of polling station results to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). In case of internet unavailability, the presiding officer has too share the results in person before 2am to the district returning officer.

If there is any delay then the in-charge of polling station would have to cite reasons, but still with the obligation of finalising and informing the higher authorities about the results before 10am on the day after polling is held.

Moreover, the ECP is bound to addressing all the complaints [at local, regional or national level] a day before the polling is to be held.

At the same time, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has to provide the record of new computerized national identity cards (CNICs) to the ECP.

The winning candidates in the National Assembly and Senate elections are required to take oath within 60 days; otherwise, the seat would be considered vacant.

As far as the qualification for the technocrat seats in Senate is concerned, the candidates will have to show 20-year experience besides the usual academic qualifications.

Meanwhile, no changes would be allowed in the polling scheme/ stations during the last five days before the polling.

Barring the polling staff from performing duties within their home tehsil and setting the election expenditure limit for the national and provincial assemblies candidates at Rs10 million and Rs4 million are among other important features of the amendment bill.