The government is committed to moving forward with the electoral reform program to ensure transparency: Fawad

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ISLAMABAD, Sep 19 (APP): Information and Broadcasting Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Sunday that Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is committed to pushing forward its reform agenda electoral campaigns to organize free, fair, transparent and credible elections. elections using modern technology.

Addressing a joint press conference with Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz here, he said the chief electoral commissioner should distance himself from controversial issues as it was a requirement of his post, otherwise he should resign and join politics.

He said the Pakistan Election Commission (ECP) and the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) were two different things and the government had strong reservations about the conduct of the CEC.

Likewise, he said, the opposition should avoid a narrow-minded approach and think in the broader national interest. He said the government had presented 49 reform proposals and the opposition did not accept them and did not bring their own proposals.

The CEC apparently spoke out against the electronic voting machine (EVM) without even considering the report, he said, adding that the CEC removed all arguments for EVMs from the report to deprive it of its substance. .

He said election data in the Philippines was removed from the record, which showed that after the introduction of the electronic voting system, controversies over the election results were reduced.

Fawad said that in the 2007 elections in the Philippines, which took place under the old paper system, the results were obtained after several days while in 2010 and 2019 the elections were held through the EVMs and that the results were announced within hours. Citizens’ confidence in the 2007 elections in the Philippines was 35%, while they expressed respectively 75% and 89% satisfaction with the results from 2010 to 2019.

With the introduction of the SRM, the violence on election day was brought under control while in 2007 many tellers lost their lives.

He said the debate on reforming the electoral system and introducing electronic voting machines was not new, adding that the ECP had raised few frivolous objections to the use of VPDs in the upcoming general election. .

The minister said it appeared that the ECP was using the language of the opposition parties. He said the opposition has the right to openly express its point of view, but officials of a national institution like the ECP cannot behave like an opposition.

Fawad Hussain urged members of the ECP to review the decisions. He said that the posts of Punjab and KPK members were currently vacant and fundamental decisions could not be made.

He said the National Database and Regulatory Authority (NADRA) has provided many technology-based facilities and Pakistan was the first country to introduce a machine-readable passport.
The minister said that if the PCE creates obstacles in the use of technology, it will lead to a new crisis.

Criticizing the attitude of the opposition, he said they rejected EVMs regardless of attending any demonstration given by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Likewise, he said, the opposition parties participated in the media protest against the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) proposal bypassing the
its details.

He said they were humiliated when the media agreed to form a joint committee on PMDA.

He said the opposition parties were opposing the government for the sake of the opposition and would be willing to join the devil in discrediting the government of the day.

He said the opposition’s attitude was contrary to the spirit of the parliamentary form of democracy in which one must think above self-interest.

Fawad said everyone believes there is a need to reform the current electoral system. He said if the opposition had any objections to the government’s proposals, they should bring their own proposals for discussion.

He said that the current opposition in Pakistan was one of the worst because its leaders lacked experience and they did not seem interested in helping to improve the system in any way.

Fawad said that since 2016, Imran Khan has officially supported the use of VPDs in general elections. He said the opposition’s stubbornness resulted in people’s lack of confidence in democracy, adding that in the past the opposition called for reforms of the electoral system and that this was the first time that the incumbent government was trying to introduce electoral reforms.

The minister asserted that it was the responsibility of parliament to decide on the process of organizing elections in the country and that the ECP should respect the decision.

Parliament would decide whether the next elections would be held under the traditional voting system or through EVMs. He said a joint session of parliament would be called, adding that his decision would be final and binding.

He said the Supreme Court gave directions to the EVP to use the technology in the Senate elections held in March this year, but its ordinance was overlooked.

Fawad said no action was taken by ECP on video footage related to proof of sale and purchase of votes in the senatorial elections for Yousuf Raza Gilani’s seat.

Stating that Pakistan was not a banana republic, he said the government had exercised restraint over the CEC’s remarks and even tolerated personal attacks on its leaders.

He said few opposition leaders have met with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, who tried to clarify their misconceptions because the government wanted to accompany the opposition in the decision-making process.

Fawad said the government wanted the president’s committee to become functional and the opposition should play its positive role in bringing about reforms in the electoral process.

However, he made it clear that the 2023 elections would take place after the electoral reforms and that there were no other options available.


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