Monday September 20, 2021

Ministers Lash Out On CEC Over EVM Issue

Islamabad: Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati has lashed out at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and asked how many notices had the body sent to Opposition leaders Maryam Nawaz and Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Addressing a presser along with Prime Minister adviser on parliamentary affairs, Swati asked the ECP “How many notices has the ECP sent to Maryam Nawaz and Fazlur Rehman that it has sent a notice to me?”

The railways’ minister said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja was “speaking the language of the Opposition and the incumbent government was facing it.”

The federal minister said the PTI-led government would make the election commission an independent institution, as he mentioned that several matters regarding the CEC’s appointment were still kept “secretive.”

Baber Awan said the government was moving forward in its electoral reforms, including the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and i-voting.

The advisor stated that perception is being built that PTI will try to rig the elections through EVMs in 2023, however, he said, the idea was of using the machines was first presented during PPP’s tenure.

“The electoral reforms are being made controversial,” he said, adding that the government was ready to extend an olive branch to the Opposition to work on the reforms together.

Awan said the Opposition wants the electoral reforms bill to be presented in a committee comprising of members from both houses — Senate and National Assembly. “The government is ready to do it.”

The advisor said he would request Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to form a committee in this regard, but he cast aspersions on the Opposition’s demand, as he feared that they would play “committee, committee” and not arrive at a conclusion.

Awan said under the constitution, the incumbent government would not hold the polls in 2023, as he tried to highlight that the current regime would not be involved in the elections process.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and the current government are trying to ensure transparent elections take place in the country, he said.

Responding to a question, he said that the chief election commissioner and Opposition should be asked as to why they were afraid of the EVMs.

“Last week, we held talks with the Opposition members on directives of the prime minister. We do not have problems with the ECP, we have an issue with Raja Sikandar […] who is the representative of Shahbaz Sharif,” he said.

The advisor pointed out that the government had time and again made attempts to speak to the Opposition and ECP on reforms, but they did not bear fruit. He stressed that the bill would pass by the Parliament, as the government has the required representation.

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