Friday Jun 18, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Friday demanded the media be given full access to the Parliament.
Shahbaz wrote a letter to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and the chief election commissioner. The PML-N president noted that the Parliament had resumed its activities after a decline in coronavirus cases, adding that media should be allowed to cover proceedings in the House.
He called on the government to ensure all hurdles and obstacles were removed so that media can cover the National Assembly and the Senate proceedings independently.
The PML-N president also demanded that Opposition leaders be allowed to speak to the media. He said, in the letter, that the media was not being granted the opportunity to provide equal coverage to the government and the Opposition.
In a separate letter addressed to Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan, the former Punjab chief minister said electoral reforms were of the utmost importance to ensure the next elections were held transparently and without any interference.
He accused the government of attempting to make the next elections controversial by introducing unilateral electoral reforms.
Shahbaz termed the government's electoral reforms as not being in line with the Constitution, adding that the relevant stakeholders had not been taken on board.
Sharif cited the ECP's example, saying that the commission had also expressed its concerns over the recent election bills. He said the government had bulldozed the election bills through the Parliament.
The PML-N leader said that to bring about meaningful electoral reforms, it was necessary that relevant institutions not only present their point of view but are also willing to take responsibility to ensure polls are held transparently.
He said it was the election commission's responsibility to ensure all parties' suggestions were heard on electoral reforms, urging the CEC to invite all parties for consultations so that a consensus-backed plan could be finalised. That plan can then be presented in the Parliament for approval, he added.
Last week, PM Imran Khan stressed the need for electoral reforms after the major political parties that contested the NA-249 by-election cast aspersions on the polling process.
The prime minister had said in the by-polls, despite a low turnout, all parties were crying foul and claiming rigging. He recalled a similar hue and cry following the Daska NA-75 by-election and the Senate elections.
"In fact, apart from the 1970 election, in every election, claims of rigging have raised doubts over the credibility of election results," the prime minister had said, in a series of tweets.
The premier had said that for the past one year, the federal government had been asking the Opposition to cooperate with it and help it reform the present electoral system.
"Our govt is determined and we will put in place reforms in our electoral system through the use of technology to bring transparency and credibility to our elections and strengthen our democracy," the prime minister added.