Opposition continues joint narrative against EVMs

Sept 20, 2021: On Sunday, the opposition criticized the government for its proposed use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), saying the move was a conspiracy to steal the next general election and make the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) controversial.

Responding to pressure from federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Shibli Faraz, PPP senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar expressed the opposition’s viewpoint saying, “Federal ministers have lost their temper after the ECP’s notices.”

According to the opposition, earlier, the Election Commission was threatened with arson by the incumbent Federal Minister and now a systematic campaign is being launched to make the constitutional body controversial.

Last week, Railway Minister Azam Khan Swati cursed the Election Commission during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, accusing it of taking bribes in rigged elections and saying such institutions should be “set on fire”.

His claims were supported by Fawad, who later called the CEC a “mouthpiece for the opposition.”

Khokhar said the federal government was trying to tarnish the image of the Election Commission by rigging the next general election. “The electronic voting machine scheme is actually a conspiracy to steal elections.”

The opposition figure reminded that the Election Supervisor had opposed the government’s proposal to use EVMs and had expressed concern over it during the Senate Standing Committee hearing. He said the CEC had refused to accept “government pressure” on the NA-75 Daska by-election. He said that the Election Commission stood against Daska rigging and suspended police and administration officials.

The CEC is trying to restore the credibility of the Election Commission while the federal government wants to control the Election Supervisor.

Khokhar said all opposition parties, lawyers, journalists and other stakeholders should stand with the Election Commission for the rule of law, supremacy of the constitution and transparent elections.

Separately, PPP opposition leader Shazia Murree said her party had rejected an anti-people presidential ordinance that imposes additional taxes on people’s electricity bills. “People are already paying indirect taxes and facing inflation and unemployment. They are suffering from power and gas shortages and water shortages”

Opposition leader Ahsan Iqbal said government officials were trying to blackmail the ECP. Iqbal tweeted that government ministers were trying to blackmail the Election Commission by making aggressive statements so that they could decide their choice in the Daska fraud case and foreign funding case.

PML-N Information Secretary Maryam Aurangzeb demanded severe punishment for PTI federal ministers for blackmailing the Election Commission and for trying to incite election observers against the CEC.

The PML-N opposition member said in a statement that Imran Khan had made a fiasco to rule in his favor in an illegal foreign funding case to put pressure on the Election Commission and blackmail it. She alleged that the government is trying to put pressure on the ECP not to release a fact-finding report on Daska election fraud. Anger over the cantonment election results is being vented on the Election Commission on the orders of [Prime Minister] Imran.

Maryam demanded “severe legal action” under Article 10 of the Election Act against federal ministers who “attacked” the ECP sitting in the PID simply because they had the correct information raised by the commission.  The opposition leader said that inciting the members of the Election Commission against the CEC was treason and an attack on the constitutional institutions.

The PML-N Information Secretary observed that the “baseless allegations” made by the PTI government reflected its “undemocratic and authoritarian mentality”.

She said, “A government that is a product of RTS manipulation is throwing mud at the ECP and is completely incapable of understanding the legal and constitutional issues raised by the CEC and his members.”

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