‘Unilateral’ electoral reforms, use of EVMs against law: Abbasi

Observer Report

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, calling such measures “unilateral” and “in contradiction with the Constitution and laws”.

Speaking to the media after the meeting of Pakistan Democratic Alliance 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.

Reacting to the government’s offer of talks on electoral reforms, Abbasi said in a presser: “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 its 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”.

“The evidence is being gathered and a white paper will be presented from the PDM’s platform to [expose] the government before the people,” PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said while addressing a press conference.

Abbasi’s press conference came after the Opposition alliance’s steering committee held a meeting which mulled over recommendations presented during an August 11 meeting in Islamabad.

Representatives of all parties who attended the meeting backed these views and reiterated that running the country according to the Constitution was the need of the hour, he said.

The participants have prepared a schedule for rallies across the country, which will be presented before a meeting in which all party heads will be in attendance, he said.

“The meeting will take place on August 28, and it will finalise the schedule,” Abbasi said. The PDM had earlier announced that it would hold a “massive” anti-government rally on August 29 in Karachi.

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