Govt offers Opp dialogue for electoral reforms

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STAFF REPORTER 
ISLAMABAD

After securing the two top Senate slots of chairman and deputy chairman, the government on Sunday offered the opposition to hold talks on electoral reforms for future elections, on the condition that it accepts the PTI-led government’s mandate to govern for five years.

Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry extended the olive branch to the opposition while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.

Chaudhry invited the opposition to sit down and have talks pertaining to “big reforms” such as electoral reforms.

“We want to make future elections fair and transparent,” the minister said.

He said National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser was ready to form committees on the issue while Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan were already working on the matter.

“Our law ministry, parliamentary division and [NA] Speaker Secretariat are all ready to talk, discuss and take the matter forward but it is important for this that you move forward while accepting the government’s mandate,” Chaudhry told the opposition.

He said clause 21 of the Charter of Democracy signed by the leaders of the PPP and the PML-N maintained that the signatory parties would respect the mandate of any in

Pakistan failing to perform its role,” Chaudhry said, adding that the opposition only had itself to blame for the results.

He said the government had persistently tried to bring about the amendment for open balloting in the Senate polls yet the opposition had “changed [its] principle and went towards secret elections”.

“Today we see the political parties which lost this election are making the noise. If elections were open today and in front of everyone, we wouldn’t have had to face such difficulties,” he added.

Emphasising that there was an opportunity today to set things right, Chaudhry asked the opposition leaders not to let their politics be controlled by “political novices”.

“Bilawal [Bhutto Zardari] and Maryam [Nawaz] have no experience of Pakistan’s politics.

The senior leadership in these parties should take policymaking in their hands and decide in the interest of Pakistan.”

The minister also called upon the opposition to cancel its planned long march to Islamabad, saying Pakistan had been “fortunate” to protect its economy during the Covid-19 pandemic and the government wanted to take this forward.

He further said a long march would contravene the aforementioned clause 21 of the CoD.

Chaudhry said, “Nawaz Sharif should return Pakistan’s money to avoid jail.” He claimed that Maryam Nawaz wanted to leave for London but that the government was not going to let her go.

Referring to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s founder Altaf Hussain – residing in London on political asylum since early 90s – the minister added that, “Neither the MQM founder nor Nawaz Sharif can return from London.”

“Those who want to follow Altaf Hussain’s path should remember the end of his journey too,” Chaudhry warned.

 

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