Islamabad, April 11 (IANS) A Pakistani daily Thursday said that tax evaders should not be permitted to contest elections and demanded that authorities "catch the slippery eel that seem so close to the net".
An editorial in the News International said that the Election Commission of Pakistan is getting a lot of stick for the prevailing confusion and uncertainty about the fate of those aspiring candidates who are tax evaders, loan defaulters and non-payers of utility bills.
"While much hoopla was raised about the fake-degree holders - although the condition of a graduation degree does not exist any longer - no one is talking about these big time dodgers," it said.
Data shows about more than half of the members of the outgoing parliament don't even have a national tax number.
Reports are now appearing based on the data uploaded on the ECP website about how much tax has been paid by our legislators in the last three years and the figures are "dismal, disappointing and shameful".
"Most of these outgoing MPs are again in the race and, surprisingly, their nomination papers have, by and large, been accepted by the returning officers. Not one big name has yet been disqualified for not paying taxes or defaulting on bank loans.
"The ECP is mysteriously silent on these issues although the Supreme Court and the high courts have clearly stated repeatedly that no tax evaders or defaulters will be allowed to enter the new parliament. How will that be done and when is a big question facing the entire electoral process," said the daily.
The editorial noted that a strong political will accompanied by a determined effort to catch the big fish is missing at almost every level - except the superior judiciary and parts of the media.
"But the judicial process is slow and has to take a defined course. The ECP has the prime responsibility to take a start - and it is here that the biggest lack of will, or courage, is clearly visible.
"...why the ECP is so shy of taking action is beyond understanding," it wondered.
The daily said it can only "lend weight to the conspiracy theories that the ECP was originally constituted by vested interests not to go into uncharted territory. There is no plausible reason why we cannot try and catch the slippery eel that seem so close to the net".