ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has announced that the 2023 general elections will be held only after the implementation of electoral reforms.
The minister made the statement while addressing a press conference along with Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz in the federal capital on Sunday.
Continuing to criticize the CEC, Chaudhry said that Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja should retire and enter politics.
He accused the CEC and the opposition of obstructing electoral reform.
The minister said the ECP’s objections to the EVM “reflect a certain mentality”, as he said the CEC Raja was against the EVM “under some agenda”.
He said the objections to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) were raised “deliberately” and only 10 objections from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were related to EVMs.
He accused the ECP of “missing” all the points in his report that were in favor of the EVM.
Chaudhry also questioned the CEC’s absence from meetings attended by the president, saying “this is not a banana republic”.
“He does not care about the Supreme Court, the President of Pakistan, the National Database and Registration Authority, or anything, if he is not in a good mood,” the minister alleged.
The minister said that this was the first time in the history of Pakistan that the government was talking about electoral reforms, as in the past the opposition had always talked about it.
Chaudhry said the reforms introduced by the government have boosted people’s confidence in the voting process more than the previous 33 per cent and everyone agrees that the current electoral system needs to be reformed.
He reiterated that the PTI has always supported electoral reforms and EVMs because they want fair and just elections.
Chaudhry asked the opposition and the ECP to come up with their own proposals for reforms if they did not accept the proposals put forward by the government.
He further said that the government would ask the two members of ECP to go ahead and review the points raised by CEC Raja in the ECP report.
‘We talk not only EVM but also technology’
Addressing the conference, Faraz said that the government was talking not only about EVMs but also about the role of technology.
He said that the government wanted to bring EVM to make the elections fair but unfortunately the ECP was biased.
He said that it would not be allowed to take the country away from the path of development at the request of an Election Commissioner.
The science minister said the ECP “did not even bother to inspect the EVM”.
“Of the 37 objections raised by the ECP, 27 highlighted their incompetence and criticized themselves,” Faraz said.
He said the ECP was “just passing the time” but wanted to make it clear that the issue would not go away until 2028.
He said a bill for electoral reform would be passed in a joint sitting of parliament.
Maryam demanded that the federal ministers be punished.
Meanwhile, PML-N spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb demanded that the Election Commission punish the federal ministers for speaking out against it.
He said the ministers were “blackmailing the Election Commission on the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan”, adding that the agency was being pressured to file an “illegal foreign funding case” against PTI. “It simply came to our notice then.
He further alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan Daska was putting pressure on the Election Commission to expose the election and vote theft.
Aurangzeb said the government did not have the answers to the questions raised by the ECP and parliament.
“Incitement of ECP members against the CEC is an attack on constitutional institutions,” he said, calling on the Election Commission to take legal action against federal ministers under Article 10 of the Election Act.
Aurangzeb said the serious allegations against the ECP were evidence of the government’s undemocratic and authoritarian mentality.
He said the government and its ministers were making “baseless allegations” against the Election Commission, “the results of which are the product of the transmission system.”
The PML-N spokesperson said that the CEC Raja and Parliament were speaking the language of law and constitution but the government could not understand it.