Friday October 15, 2021

Several issues on CEC’s appointment still kept secret: Swati

September 21, 2021
Several issues on CEC’s appointment still kept secret: Swati

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati on Monday lashed out at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and asked how many notices had the electoral body sent to opposition leaders Maryam Nawaz and 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 electoral body, as he addressed a press conference alongside Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan here.

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

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

The adviser stated that perception is being built that the 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 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. Babar 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 adviser 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.

Babar 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 adviser pointed out that the government had time and again made attempts to speak to opposition and ECP on reforms, but they did not bear fruit. He stressed that the bill would be passed 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.