ISLAMABAD: A delegation of Pakistan Peoples Party on Friday met Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and conveyed to him the party’s concerns over the government’s decision to introduce electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general elections.
The delegation comprised PPP parliamentary leader in Senate Sherry Rehman, former Senate chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari and Syed Naveed Qamar.
“We came to meet the chief election commissioner to convey our grievances on electoral reforms which should have been debated in the parliament and a decision should have been made keeping in mind views of all political parties. The bill that the PTI government has bulldozed through the NA is a direct subversion to our electoral and democratic system,” Ms Rehman told reporters.
She said the government wanted to institutionalise rigging and also to curtail the ECP’s powers through the bill.
“ECP’s reports on electronic and internet voting were not tabled in the parliament over the last three years. Instead, the government bulldozed this bill. The ruling party has made a habit of bypassing the parliament and promulgating ordinances. For e- and i-voting to be introduced in Pakistan, all political parties must agree to it, but as always, the PTI government has acted with undue and unnecessary haste. It is ironic that they are talking about transparency in elections when we all know who has been involved in rigging,” she added.
Sherry accuses govt of planning institutionalised rigging
“This and other important bills should not have been passed without consultations of all political parties, but they still went ahead with it. On the one hand the government invited opposition parties for talks on reforms, but on the other no one was allowed to speak or read or make amendments to important bills. How will the parliament work in this situation?”
“It’s shocking that 21 bills were bulldozed through the National Assembly yesterday in a terrible travesty of parliamentary norms, democracy and basic rules of procedure. Did Tabahi Sarkar think this was the last session of the National Assembly that they threw so many bills into one agenda minus any consultation?” she asked.
“The government has already made the upcoming elections controversial as everyone has reservations on using the EVMs. These machines can easily get hacked and the vote count can be tampered with. This will only make electoral fraud easier. The PPP has always been an advocate of electoral reforms and it would make more sense if the ECP carried out these reforms. We will never let the government damage the democratic system and will always take a stand to protect peoples’ right to vote,” she said.
Mr Qamar and Mr Bukhari said the Election Commission had already expressed its reservations on the issue in the parliamentary committee and the government should let the ECP do its job instead of finding ways to pressurise it.
Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2021