Warn of unilateral decision on EVMs use
Federal minister Fawad Chaudhry and Shibli Faraz have urged members of the election commission of Pakistan (ECP) to rebel against their chief, namely the Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.
At a press conference on Sunday, they also declared that the government would not allow the issue of electronic voting machines (EVMs) to drag on until 2028 and may act unilaterally.
The opposition Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) has reacted to the press conference by saying that the ministers’ statement amounted to sedition.
The press conference is the latest in a series of tirades from the government against the ECP, which has already issued notices to Fawad Chaudhry and Azam Swati, another federal minister to lambaste the ECP.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Science Minister Shibli Faraz spoke to journalists at the Press Information Department in Islamabad.
They accused the chief election commissioner (CEC) of omitting data in favour of EVMs from the ECP report submitted to the Senate Committee on Parliamentary Affairs.
The minister said the CEC could face a contempt of court case because he was acting as an opposition mouthpiece.
Faraz said the objection raised by the ECP against EVMs were a failure of ECP, not the government.
They said the opposition was fixated on the cases against its leaders and had failed to provide input on the EVMs.
The minister said if the opposition parties continued to be non-coeoperative about the election reforms, the government would take a unilateral decision and implement the use of technology in the 2023 general elections.
Faraz said the opposition wanted the issue to drag on until the 2028 general elections, but “our leader’s commitment says that we will not allow this.”
Chaudhry said the opposition leaders were bent on rejecting everything coming from the government.
“Even if Satan begins a sit-in outside here, he will be flanked by Maryam, Bilawal and Shehbaz Sharif and everyone else would clap.”
Urging the ECP members to rebel against their chief, Fawad said, “The other two ECP members should come forward and review the decision made by the election commissioner.”
The ECP comprises five members, including the CEC and one member from each of the four provinces. However, members from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have completed their terms and the two positions lie vacant. The appointment process for two new members is under way.
Maryam Aurangzeb, the spokesperson for the PMLN, said the ministers were trying to incite the ECP members against the chief election commissioner and it amounted to sedition and an attack on a constitutional organization.
She urged the ECP to act against the ministers, who, she said, were trying to blackmail the ECP on the instruction from PM Imran Khan.
“The government has no answer to the question raised by the election commission and members of the Parliament,” she said adding that Imran Khan was trying to pressure the ECP into quashing foreign funding case against the PTI.