Sunday September 26, 2021

‘Legislation no good if establishment’s role remains in elections’

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said the proposed process of electoral reforms should ensure that the establishment’s role in elections comes to an end in the country.

Speaking at a press conference here on Monday at the Media Cell of Bilawal House, the PPP chairman said the forthcoming elections in the country would continue to remain controversial without ending the role of establishment no matter how many other electoral reforms were introduced in the country.

He said the PMLN’s demand to hand over to the army the polling material related to the recently held NA-249 by-election was beyond his comprehension and against the narrative of the PMLN.

Bilawal said it seemed that there was some sort of under the table deal between the PMLN and PTI in the Punjab as the former made no move to get rid of the government of Usman Buzdar despite having the parliamentary strength in the province.

He said the PMLN inaction against the Buzdar government was at the expense of the Punjab province and its people that had to continuously suffer due to bad governance. The PPP chairman said his party had been working on electoral reforms as he did not want the rigging that took place in 2018 and in the earlier general elections. “We need to make reforms in this regard, for which we are ready, but the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) can play a very important role in this regard,” he added. Bilawal said no one takes the PTI regime’s position seriously and sitting with the swindlers to stop the rigging in elections seems strange. The most important and fundamental point to prevent the election rigging was the role of the establishment in the elections and if this role persists, then no matter how much legislation is enacted, the elections will remain controversial.

“Everyone saw that the establishment had no active role in the NA-249 by-elections, so we want them to not only legislate but also create a consensus that the establishment has no role in politics and elections,” he said. Responding to another question, the PPP chairman said that if the PMLN had evidence of any rigging in the recent Karachi’s by-poll, it should approach the ECP and not make any appeal in this connection to the army. “If the PMLN appeals to the army to intervene after losing a seat, it would be detrimental to the electoral process,” he added. He pointed out that during the 2018 elections, troops had been deployed inside and outside every polling station and it was the largest army deployment in any elections in the history of Pakistan, but those elections proved to be controversial. “We believe that this makes not only elections, but also institutions unnecessarily controversial, so I consider the PMLN statement in this regard irresponsible,” he added.

Replying to yet another question, Bilawal said the PPP had proved to the opposition parties that the no-confidence motion could work against the present government. It is the responsibility of the opposition parties to oppose the government instead of opposing the PPP, he added. In response to another question, he said that if Prime Minister Imran Khan was talking about dissolving the assemblies, and the PMLN was talking about the resignations, it meant that the two parties were on the same page. The vote will not be respected, if parliament is not respected. Despite holding majority in Punjab, Buzdar is not being challenged because the PMLN thinks Buzdar could do much damage to Punjab and its people, which is in the advantage of the PMLN. “We have shown the way that the federal government could be clinched after Punjab through the no-confidence motion on the basis of the results of the Senate election in Islamabad,” he added. Bilawal also told media persons that the newly-launched Benazir Mazdoor Card was a revolutionary step of the Sindh government and said three million workers of Sindh would benefit from this scheme in the near future.

The PPP chairman said the Benazir Mazdoor Card Scheme would serve first to the 600,000 workers currently working in industrial enterprises, but our effort would be that this card should be given to every worker in Sindh. He said whether the workers are associated with the construction sector or work in houses, through the electronic registration they will be given the Benazir Mazdoor Card, enabling them to avail the same facilities now available to the limited number of industrial workers.