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Saturday Jun 12 2021
Web Desk

Ahsan Iqbal casts aspersions over govt's electoral reforms

Web Desk

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday said the government had passed two laws in the National Assembly that paved the way for it to "rig" the next elections.

Iqbal, addressing a press conference in Lahore, said the government had bulldozed several laws during the NA session held a day before the unveiling of the budget, and among them were two laws related to electoral reforms.

The PML-N leader said delimitation was made conditional on voter lists instead of population, while the voter lists were handed over to NADRA.

With this, the government will be able to add whomever it wants and expunge any names from the voter lists and deprive people of their right to vote, he said.

"The voter list is the property of the election commission, and it cannot be taken away from it. This is an attack on free and fair elections."

On the issue of overseas Pakistanis being given the right to vote, he said separate seats should be allocated for them to vote on, as their part in general elections would have adverse effects.

"Pakistanis living abroad do not know anything about domestic politics; this would open the door for foreign intervention," he warned.

"The government has laid down this condition to please its ally party, thus increasing the number of seats in Karachi and decreasing it in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan," he alleged.

On June 10, the House had passed the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill which pertains to fair, free and transparent election through utilisation of technology and modern gadgets.

The bill is also aimed at granting voting rights to the Overseas Pakistanis which may only be possible by vesting exclusive authority in ECP with technical assistance of NADRA and other agencies.

Amendments were sought in section 94 and 103 of the Election Act, 2017 to achieve the aforesaid objectives.

'Next elections to be contested under new mechanism'

On Monday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said the upcoming general elections will be fought "under a new mechanism", announcing that the government had completed all arrangements related to using electronic voting machines (EVMs). 

"We had promised to provide overseas Pakistanis with the right to vote," Chaudhry had said. "Shibli Faraz will hold a practical demonstration of the EVM at the election commission office this week."

The minister said that the government has made it clear to the ECP that it will provide the institution all the support and help it needs to conduct voting on electronic machines.

"General Elections 2023 will be contested under a new mechanism," he had said. 

PDM rejects 'one-sided' electoral reforms

Last month, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had rejected the government's "one-sided" electoral reforms, which include the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), and announced a fresh wave of anti-government protests.

"PDM rejects the government's unilateral electoral reforms ordinance, including the voting machines, and terms it as pre-poll rigging," PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had said, as he addressed a press conference alongside PDM leaders.

In this regard, the Election Commission of Pakistan — which is responsible for holding transparent elections — should call a meeting of all political parties to take a unanimous decision on reforms, he had said.