ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has urged Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja to convene an all-party conference (APC) for building consensus on electoral reforms to ensure that future elections in the country are held in a fair and transparent manner and reflect the genuine will of the electorate.
In a letter to the CEC, Mr Sharif said that in view of complaints of rigging in the 2018 general elections there was a dire need for evolving a national consensus on electoral reforms to ensure that next general elections are held in a fair, free and transparent manner and without any interference.
The opposition leader warned that the present government’s unilateral actions to force its electoral reforms agenda without any consultation with the stakeholders, which conflicts with many constitutional provisions, would make future elections controversial.
He pointed out that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had itself expressed serious concern over the recent election bills bulldozed through the National Assembly in an objectionable manner.
Letter sent to chief election commissioner
“Any election-related legislation must be based on broad-based consensus. For meaningful electoral reforms, institutions have to ensure stakeholders’ input and ownership,” he stressed.
He said the spirit of upholding the Constitution must be at the centre of the reform plan.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan is the constitutional body responsible for holding of free, fair and impartial elections in the country. It is thus responsibility of ECP to hold an inclusive dialogue with all political parties in the country on the subject of electoral reforms.”
Mr Sharif urged the chief election commissioner to invite all opposition parties for consultation to achieve a consensus-based reforms plan that could be presented in parliament.
Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2021