Working Paper

Working Paper

[ADRN Working Paper] Regulating the Use of Money in Politics: The Case of Pakistan

  • 2021-05-28
  • Ahmed Bilal Mehboob

ISBN  979-11-6617-129-1 95340

[Editor's Note]

Pakistan is equipped with legal frameworks that regulate the political finance of both politicians and political parties. Such framework is institutionally empowered in the Elections Commissions of Pakistan(ECP) with the latest Act of Parliament, the Elections Act 2017. Notwithstanding, the author Ahmed Bilal Mehboob from the Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency, points out that the ECP does not fully monitor the role of money in politics. The limits on electoral spendings of politicians and those of political parties are inconsistent. This ignores the increasing influence of political parties on political finance like election expenses. President Mehbooh also writes that the current legal, as well as institutional framework, do not thoroughly follow the trends of political campaigning like using social media, which will, in the end, harm the detailed and transparent political finance system in Pakistan. For better-regulated money usage in Pakistan politics, an opportunity for capacity building followed by a series of systemic reforms such as hiring the right professionals, making all the monitoring procedures accessible to the public is required by the ECP.



※ The following are excerpts from the article. For the full text, please check the attached file at the top of this page.


The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a federal parliamentary democracy. It has a bicameral legislature at the federal level, while each of the four provinces have unicameral legislatures. The Parliament of Pakistan has the constitutional responsibility to legislate on a vast number of subjects contained in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution, while each Provincial Assembly can legislate on subjects under the constitutional authority of the provinces. At the federal level, the Prime Minister is elected from a population-based house, the National Assembly, where seats are allocated to each province and the federal capital on the basis of population. Elections are held under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, and seats reserved for women and members of the non-Muslim population are chosen through a proportional representation (PR) system. Members of the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies each have a five-year term. The executive authority of the Federation is exercised in the name of the President by the federal government, which consists of the Prime Minister and the Federal Ministers. This is also the case in provinces where Chief Ministers, together with provincial cabinets, exercise executive authority over each of the four provinces. Seats in the Senate of Pakistan are equally allocated to each of the four provinces and are filled through a PR system by means of the single transferable vote. The Senate does not have a fixed term, but elections on half of its seats are carried out every three years.


In Pakistan, the system of political finance is determined under the latest Act of Parliament on the subject, the Elections Act 2017,¹and before that, the Representation of People Act. Under the law, the Elections Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is legally charged with the responsibility to implement clauses dealing with financial matters in the electoral and political domains. An entire chapter, Chapter VIII on Election Expenses and Statement of Assets and Liabilities, is devoted to the subject in the Elections Act 2017. The chapter details limits on election expenses, how to submit election expenses, and other areas and legal dimensions of political finance. ■


¹ The Elections Act, 2017 Accessed: 30 December 2021.


Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, the founder and President of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) has over 25 years of experience in senior management and advisory positions and over 15 years of experience in design, planning, and successful implementation of research and policy initiatives in a variety of fields of democratic governance. His research, analyses, and advocacy have helped in shaping and influencing critical policies in Pakistan, in addition to informing the public and media discourse on challenges and opportunities of democratic governance. Mr. Mehboob has carved a non-partisan political research initiative from the platform of well-known indigenous and independent think tank PILDAT and has spearheaded objective and non-partisan, evidence-based analysis and policy reform initiatives in areas such as political and institutional reform including democracy, governance, rule of law, political parties, local governments, electoral processes, civil-military relations, federation-province relations, women and youth in politics, and so on. Under the leadership of Mr. Mehboob, PILDAT, established in 2002, is widely recognized for the quality, seriousness, and objectivity of its policy analyses and successful and effective reform initiatives. Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob is regularly invited to lecture at Pakistan’s premium public policy institutions, including the National School of Public Policy and its affiliates, defense institutions such as the National Defence University and Command and Staff College, public and private institutions of academic excellence, as well as many national, regional, and international think tanks and research institutions. He also writes regularly for media and is invited to appear as an analyst on key issues of democratic governance. Mr. Mehboob holds a B.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Engineering & Technology of Lahore, Pakistan. As an engineer, he has served outside Pakistan in both the Middle East and the USA. As a student activist, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob was elected as President, Engineering University Students Union from 1971-1972 and also served as Chairman, Lahore Students Council in 1972.



  • Typeset by Juhyun Jun, Research Associate
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