Friday January 28, 2022

Electoral reforms: PM Imran Khan directs NA speaker to negotiate with opposition

October 04, 2021
Electoral reforms: PM Imran Khan directs NA speaker to negotiate with opposition

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has handed over the task of negotiating with the Opposition regarding electoral reforms to Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser, Geo News reported Sunday.

Sources told Geo News the premier has issued directives to complete the electoral reform process as soon as possible and that the government wants to finalise the reforms through consultation.

The sources added that PM Khan has tasked the speaker's office to hold talks with the Opposition on the issue of amending the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) rules. Earlier this week, the PTI-led government had welcomed the Opposition's readiness to discuss electoral reforms with the Centre, days after a committee from both houses was formed to address the matter.

Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, addressing a post-cabinet press conference in Islamabad, said the committee should take positive steps to resolve the matter and not waste time.

The information minister said the electronic voting machine (EVM) and i-voting were a crucial part of the reforms. "If we exclude overseas Pakistanis from the voting process [...] it will be an injustice with them."

Chaudhry said PM Khan, during the cabinet meeting, directed Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, Advisor to PM on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, and others who oversee parliamentary matters that these two elements — EVMs and i-voting — be discussed as a necessity with the Opposition.

The information minister said a majority of the conflicts arise as the vote count comes in and that the government had shared a study of the Philippines with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), where 300 officials had died during conflicts when the final count came in. "This happened when the Philippines did not use EVMs."

The federal minister said the government had imported 20 machines and hoped that they could be used in upcoming elections. "No sitting government in Pakistan has ever focused on electoral reforms, it is the PTI-led government that aims to introduce them," the minister said, highlighting that the incumbent regime had also run campaigns in this regard.

The federal minister added the government would bring its agenda to a joint session of the parliament and stressed once more that the government is willing to talk to the Opposition on electoral reforms.