LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has urged the relevant institutions and civil society to take action against Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati’s “threats” to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Addressing a press conference in Lahore on Saturday, the PML-N leader said while referring to Swati’s remarks, “They need to hold their tongue.” He said it was perhaps for the first time in history that “the ECP has taken a stand on principles”.
“If the government is making such threats, it is the responsibility of Pakistan’s civil society and political parties to fulfil their responsibility and their voice against such verbal attacks,” he reiterated.
The minister further said instead of responding to the ECP’s objections over electoral reform, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) resorted to threatening the body. Referring to the election reforms bill, he said the bill could not be passed as it lacked the majority in the National Assembly.
He added that no one, including Pakistan’s civil society and intelligence, would accept an election conducted via electronic voting machines (EVMs). “Their majority in the National Assembly is fake,” he said, adding “Who will accept legislation that is based on a fake majority?”
Saad Rafique further stated that electoral reforms had more to do with reaching a common ground with the opposition than legislation. “If we don’t agree [with the reforms], who would accept them?” he concluded.
A day earlier, Railways Minister Azam Swati passed scathing remarks against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), accusing it of taking bribes and “always” rigging polls.
During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, called to discuss proposed amendments to the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2021, he had commented that institutions like the ECP should be “set on fire”.
The federal minister said the ECP was making fun of the government, adding the commission was not entitled to “ruin” democracy in the country. He added that such institutions conduct all elections through rigging and should be burned down.
EVMs cannot stop rigging, says ECP
On Friday, the Election Commission of Pakistan submitted a four-page letter to Taj Haider, the chairman of the senate’s standing committee on parliamentary affairs, expressing its reservations regarding the proposed election amendment bills.
The ECP stated that it endorses the introduction of new technologies in the electoral process but has concerns about the process being pushed in “haste”.
“The Commission, while in favor of technology, believes that the technology to be used must be secured and sufficiently tested,” the letter argued, adding that the EVM should be subject to massive testing by procuring the machine on a small scale for a pilot project first.
“EVMs will not counter all types of frauds and open up the possibility of other more sophisticated types of fraud and manipulation of software and hardware,” the letter added.