Former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday suggested that a constitutional amendment be made to apply Article 6 of the Constitution — which deals with treason — on anyone found "stealing the elections".
The PML-N leader made these remarks referring to a controversial bill on electoral reforms passed during the joint sitting of parliament a day ago, which paved way for the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next elections. The legislation was strongly rejected by the opposition, which alleged that the government was trying to rig the elections through the use of electronic machines.
Talking to the media in Karachi today, Abbasi said "elections are [often] stolen here and the only way to ensure free and fair elections in Pakistan is to bring a constitutional amendment."
He accused the government of attempting to bring the Election Commission of Pakistan under its control through the passage of the EVM bill.
He said the electronic voting machines have failed worldwide, while in Pakistan the government was adamant to waste public money on such experiments.
"The electoral process in Pakistan is not controversial, but the mechanism to hold polls is. But, we are now even making election process tainted," he added.
'EVMs will erase the evidence'
The PML-N leader feared that the EVMs would even erase the evidence [of rigging], saying "stealing elections will remain a crime regardless of any tactic used by the government."
He recalled that the National Assembly speaker had sent opposition parties a letter seeking consensus of all political parties for passage of bills in the parliament.
"We agreed to it and said the so-called electoral reform bills should also be sent to Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms in view of the practice of the past. But the speaker did not respond to us on this," Abbasi moaned.
'Electronic voting system in NA rotten for 35 years'
Abbasi said an electronic voting system had been in place in the National Assembly for 35 years but it could not be used even once for the voting of 342 people. "How could we then employ the EVMs to conduct voting of 230 million people?"
He rued that the opposition members were denied a chance to speak in the assembly session, saying "we cannot even talk about the flaws in the system. This is the situation of our parliament."
'Waiting for a suo motu notice'
Meanwhile, Abbasi said startling revelations of the ex-Gilgit Baltistan chief judge against former chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar warranted an immediate probe. "But, has any commission been formed? Has the Supreme Judicial Council taken notice?"
He said he was waiting for the suo motu notice on the matter, saying "it is a test of the judiciary now".