ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday hinted that it might not sit with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for the proposed electoral reforms.

Terming the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms a toothless body, PPP secretary general and former Senate chairman Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said the committee had no mandate and power.

He said National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar’s statement that the committee had been formed on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s directives “means the speaker is taking dictation from the prime minister”.

Mr Bukhari said the prime minister could only request but not direct parliament. Mr Khan’s actions did not show he wanted to establish working relationship with the opposition, he said, explaining that it was “necessary to establish working relations with the opposition before forming the committee”.

PTI leaders highlight need for dialogue

The PPP leader reminded the government that it had already formed a committee on electoral reforms, headed by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, but that committee, too, had no mandate and power.

However, the PTI government on Friday again announced that it wanted reforms in the electoral system with the introduction of latest technology to bring transparency and credibility to the election process.

According to the PTI central leadership, the government wanted to introduce electronic voting machines (EVMs) to help increase trust of voters, political parties and civil society in the electoral process. PM Khan had invited the opposition to sit with the government for electoral reforms and restore credibility of elections.

PTI’s central leader and former minister for national health services Aamir Mehmood Kiani said that electoral reforms were the only solution to the complaints about rigging in elections. “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,” he added.

According to the PTI leader, PM Khan observed that questions over the credibility of results had been raised after every general election, except the 1970 poll. He claimed that the government had been asking the opposition for the past one year to cooperate with it for electoral reforms.

Mr Kiani said all technical issues in the use of EVMs could be resolved with the start of the dialogue process. It was high time that the government and opposition sit together to have a dialogue on electoral reforms.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill called upon all political stakeholders to come forward and sit with the government for electoral reforms. He said PM Khan had been highly supportive and vocal for more than two decades to ensure transparency and fairness in the electoral system. He said the prime minister had taken the decision in principle that the next general election would be held on the basis of election reforms.

PTI lawmaker Sher Ali Arbab said political consultation was necessary to introduce EVMs which would ensure quick and early results instead of awaiting them till midnight.

The federal government has proposed a series of amendments to the Constitution, laws and the Elections Act 2017 as part of its electoral reforms agenda.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2021

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