Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League – N (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif has termed the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) ‘evil and vicious machine’, adding that the system is being introduced by the government to further its agenda to rig the next general elections.
He added that the government has been bulldozing the parliament and the ruling party wished to extend its rule by hook or by crook. “Never has Pakistan seen such a fascist government,” he said.
Sharif issued these remarks while addressing the joint session of the parliament. He called on Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser to postpone the proceedings of the session, because the pieces of legislation that government wants to pass are all ‘black laws’.
“If you allow this black law to pass, Pakistan will suffer a great deal, and you will be responsible for it,” he said, while addressing the speaker. He said that the process of consultation should start from scratch and the opposition will participate in the discussions if the government displays its seriousness.
The opposition leader said that federal ministers attacked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for raising objections on the EVMs after extensive research on the subject. He added that it was Prime Minister Imran Khan who encouraged his ministers to attack the ECP this way.
Sharif said that the ECP report on Daska by-polls exposed how the government tried to manipulate the process. “How can these thieves be expected to conduct transparent elections,” he asked.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi denies Shehbaz Sharif’s allegations
In response to his speech, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the government did not want to introduce any ‘black law’, but was trying to undo the black laws introduced by the past governments. Qureshi added that there has been no general elections in Pakistan where rigging allegations were not made. “But the question is, when will we learn from history and correct course,” he said, adding that it is time to introduce a fair system.
“The government does not want to bulldoze the parliament. We reached out to the opposition members and offered to incorporate the government’s suggestions, but the opposition paid no attention,” he said.
The foreign minister said that the session of the parliament was not summoned in haste and the government gave the opposition ample time. Qureshi said that the government’s allies were standing by it.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi also said that the government was making use of technology to reform the electoral process. The minister said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) did not choose to boycott the process but tried to reform the system when it had complaints of rigging [post-2013 elections].