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Thursday October 28, 2021

Azam Swati lashes out at ECP for serving him show-cause notice

ECP issued notices to Swati and Fawad after they had levelled allegations against the institution

By Web Desk
September 20, 2021
Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati addressing a press conference in Islamabad, on September 20, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive
Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati addressing a press conference in Islamabad, on September 20, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive

Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati on Monday slammed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)  for serving him a show-cause notice and asked how many similar notices had been sent to PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

"How many notices has the ECP sent to Maryam Nawaz and Fazlur Rehman that it has sent a notice to me?" Swati asked the body while addressing a press conference alongside Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan in Islamabad.

The ECP had issued notices to Swati and the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry last week after they had levelled allegations against the institution, sources had informed Geo News.

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."

Govt 'ready' to speak to Opposition

Speaking during the press conference, 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.

Will go to SC    if we have to: Awan

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.

"If we have to go to the Supreme Court against ECP, we will," he added.