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PM invites opposition to discuss electoral reforms

Top Story

May 2, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday stressed the need for electoral reforms after the major political parties that contested the NA-249 by-election cast aspersions on the polling process.

The prime minister said that in the by-polls, despite a low turnout, all parties were crying foul and claiming rigging. He recalled a similar hue and cry following the NA-75 Daska by-election and the Senate elections.

"In fact, apart from the 1970 elections, in every election, claims of rigging have raised doubts over the credibility of election results," the prime minister said in a series of tweets.

Going back to the 2013 general elections, he said there were 133 NA constituencies' disputes before election tribunals.

The premier said his party had demanded an examination of only four out of the 133 constituencies, and in all four, "rigging was established".

"But it took us a year and a 126-day dharna (sit-in) to get a Judicial Commission which found over 40 faults in conduct of elections," the prime minister said. However, despite all the efforts, the premier said no "substantive" reforms were put in place. He said that the use of technology and electronic voting machines (EVM) are the only answer to "reclaim the credibility of elections".

"I invite the opposition to sit with us and select from available EVM models to restore our elections' credibility," he said.

Referencing the US presidential elections to support his case, he said: "(Former US president) Trump's team did everything to dispute 2020 presidential elections result, but because technology was used in the electoral process, not one irregularity was found."

The premier said for a year now, the federal government had been asking the opposition to cooperate with it and help it reform the present electoral system.

"Our government is determined and we will put in place reforms in our electoral system through the use of technology to bring transparency and credibility to our elections and strengthen our democracy," the prime minister said.

Reacting to the PM’s officer, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said Imran Khan is cooking up a new plan to rig elections with his recent rant about EVMs.

In a statement, Marriyum said vote thieves and mandate robbers could not be trusted for electoral reforms. She said those who abducted the Election Commission staff in Daska, should not lecture the nation on electoral reforms.

The former information minister said what good could be achieved by an electronic voting machine in a system where RTS (Results Transmission System) is suspended over a single order. She said the PMLN would not let the government’s plans of hijacking and rigging elections succeed.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) raised doubts over the PM’s offer and rejected it, saying that Imran Khan is stuck in a dead end street and making offers of talks to the opposition on non-issues.

“History of the past over 30 months of his style of governance shows that talks and negotiations are alien to his temperament,” said the PPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar.

He said the computer based system of voting requires computer literacy that is also lacking in Pakistan.