Abbasi following PDM meeting

‘Unilateral’ electoral reforms, use of EVMs against Constitution

Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday rejected the government’s proposed electoral reforms, including the use of electronic voting machine (EVM), calling such measures “unilateral” and “in contradiction with the Constitution and laws”.

Speaking to the media after the meeting of Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) — an alliance of opposition parties — in Islamabad, Abbasi accused the government of “planning to steal” the next elections through electoral reforms.

The statement from the senior PML-N leader comes after Prime Minister Imran Khan, earlier this week, invited the opposition to hold talks with the government on electoral reforms after it decided in principle to use EVMs in the next general elections in 2023.

“The prime minister has categorically told the cabinet that all stakeholders should be consulted for finalising electoral reforms as the use of EVMs is imperative for holding free, fair, transparent and dispute-free elections. The cabinet was also told that a final decision on the use of EVMs in next elections would be made within the next fortnight,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said at a press conference after a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday.

Reacting to the government’s offer of talks on electoral reforms, Abbasi said in a presser Saturday: “All the parties [in the PDM] have once again rejected the unilateral electoral reforms today as they are tantamount to rid people of their freedom of speech.”

He said the alleged failures of the government in the last three were the result of mandate that it got through “unfair means”.

Abbasi further said that the opposition alliance plans to present a white paper on the current government’s performance over the past three years in order to expose its “corruption, political persecution and the flawed accountability process”.

He said that the country’s “so-called accountability process” was an “attempt to mask the corruption of the government and its ministers, adding that there had been attempts to rig all elections.

“The proof is in front of the people. We will present a white paper regarding this after collecting all the facts,” he said.

He also announced that the PDM would hold rallies countrywide and its schedule for forthcoming public gatherings will be revealed after being approved by the PDM’s executive committee on August 28.

Responding to a question about the situation in Afghanistan, the PML-N leader said Pakistan’s policy on the war-torn neighbouring country “can only be decided after a debate in the parliament”.