LAHORE: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif has rejected the proposal of introducing electronic voting, arguing that the system has been snubbed throughout the world, while Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry urges the opposition leader in the National Assembly to first read the electoral reforms proposals before refusing to accept them.

“The electronic voting system has been rejected by the entire world and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has declared it as impractical,” Shehbaz said in response to the reforms proposed by Prime Minister Imran Khan. “The system of a country cannot be changed over the whims of a single person.”

In reference to the exclusion of the opposition from consultations over the reforms, he said the process of electoral reforms was essentially inclusive with everyone taken on board.

He recalled how the PML-N brought everyone, including the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), on board for the successful 2018 electoral reforms and nobody had objected to it.

Fawad asks Opp leader to go through reforms before commenting

Shehbaz said parliament had been locked by the PTI government for three years and when the opposition was talking about positive suggestions and the charter of economy, it was insulted over these well-intentioned offers with accusations of seeking an NRO (relief from court cases, in reference to the Musharraf-era National Reconciliation Ordinance).

The former chief minister said a country’s image was improved by justice, transparency and supremacy of law, not by electronic voting machines (EVMs), and advised the prime minister that instead of his new obsession with EVMs, he should focus on the obliterated economy, skyrocketing inflation, unemployment and dying people.

Responding to the opposition leader’s remarks, Information Minister Chaudhry urged Mr Sharif to go through the electoral reforms proposals before commenting on them.

Lamenting at, what he called, the PML-N’s “fleeing” from the reforms, he tweeted that Mr Sharif’s statement that the reforms are to be done by the ECP and not parliament depicted that the opposition leader neither understood the election system nor was interested in the reforms.

“Why would a party that comes into power through intrigues talk of reforms?” the minister taunted.

Replying to the minister, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said those who “abducted” the election staff (in Daska by-polls) should stop talking of electoral reforms.

She said those who were a product of a “rigged” election wanted to be trusted with electoral reforms. “The ones who are in power today because of meddling with the RTS [Result Transmission System] have the audacity to talk about well-intended electoral reforms.”

Those who preferred political victimisation to electoral and economic reforms for three years were worried about reformation of the system.

The PML-N leader alleged that the PTI was desperate to find a way to rig polls after losing every single by-election. “After being rejected by the people, the PTI is searching for innovative ways of rigging to sneak their way into power.”

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2021

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