Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati on Friday lashed out on the Election Fee of Pakistan (ECP), accusing it of “at all times” rigging polls and stated such establishments must be “set on hearth”.
He made these remarks throughout a gathering of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Senator Taj Haider to debate proposed amendments to the Elections (Modification) Act, 2021.
The standing committee has 14 members with 4 from the PTI, three from the PPP, two from PML-N, two independents, and one every from the BAP, the MQM-P and the JUI-P.
Earlier than the committee voted on the proposed amendments, Swati got here down onerous on the ECP and alleged that the fee took bribes to rig polls.
He stated the ECP was making enjoyable of the federal government, including the fee was not entitled to “break” democracy within the nation.
Following his remarks, the ECP officers who had been current in the course of the assembly staged a walkout in protest.
Swati’s remarks additionally drew criticism from the opposition. PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz stated that the social gathering had solely ever highlighted detrimental characters inside establishments.
“However the authorities is threatening to set a complete establishment on hearth and there’s no one to [hold them] accountable,” she stated.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman known as out the minister’s “critically inappropriate behaviour”.
“If it doesn’t bend to their will, to say a constitutional establishment must be burnt down is like saying let’s simply dispense with all democratic norms and get on with our mannequin of one-party authoritarianism. Rig the system for us or trash it,” she stated.
‘ECP not above the regulation’
Throughout in the present day’s assembly, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan stated that the election fee was not above the regulation and needed to work inside its ambit.
The ECP in a document submitted on Sep 7 to the standing committee had warned that digital voting machines (EVMs) had been susceptible to tampering and the software program may simply be altered. “It’s practically unattainable to make sure that each machine is trustworthy,” the ECP had famous within the doc.
Responding to the ECP’s reservations, Awan questioned the fee for delaying work on introducing EVMs. “Why can we really feel threatened by the expertise?” he requested.
He stated the federal government had additionally written a letter to the fee in regards to the funds and safety of EVMs, however did not obtain a response.
Haider careworn the necessity to hearken to the ECP’s objections concerning the proposed amendments to the election regulation.
At one level, Swati walked out of the assembly along with his fellow parliamentarians whereas calling out the chairman for allegedly not permitting authorities members to participate within the session by means of video conferencing.
Afterwards, the committee — within the absence of the members of the treasury benches — rejected the proposed amendments regarding voting rights for abroad Pakistanis, use of EVMs within the subsequent basic elections and holding Senate polls by means of the open poll.
The Elections (Modification) Invoice 2020 was launched within the Nationwide Meeting on Oct 16, 2020, and it was handed by the standing committee involved on June 8 amid the opposition’s protest. The invoice sailed through the decrease home on June 11.
CEC appearing as opposition ‘mouthpiece’: Chaudhry
Later within the day, three federal ministers launched one other blistering assault on the ECP, with Info Minister Fawad Chaudhry accusing the chief election commissioner (CEC) of appearing as a “mouthpiece for the opposition”.
Addressing a press convention, Chaudhry stated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s authorities was the primary which took up the duty to make elections truthful and clear and gave suggestions for electoral reforms and took them to the parliament.
He claimed that no political stakeholder was glad with the present electoral system, saying the opposition “allege rigging wherever they lose”. He added that the answer lay within the nation’s political management sitting collectively and deciding the suitable electoral course of.
“The logic of ECP is unusual; they are saying the parliament doesn’t have the precise to inform them what the system might be, despite the fact that the Structure clearly states elections might be held in accordance with the regulation,” he stated.
“You will not make the regulation,” he advised the ECP, saying the authority to legislate completely belonged to the parliament.
Chaudhry stated it was not the whole ECP that was against the federal government’s proposals, however “the chief election commissioner is extra focused on appearing as a mouthpiece of the opposition.”
He added that it was doable that the CEC had “private sympathies” for PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif attributable to his shut connections with the latter, saying the federal government had no issues with the identical. “However whether or not it’s the election commissioner or any establishment, they must operate whereas accepting the parliament. No particular person might be allowed to undermine the parliament.”
Talking in regards to the disagreement in in the present day’s Senate assembly, Chaudhry stated the behaviour of ECP officers was tantamount to “rejecting the privilege of the parliament”.