Saad Rafique demands action over Azam Swati’s ‘threats’ against ECP
Saad Rafique demands action over Azam Swati’s ‘threats’ against ECP

A day after Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati passed scathing remarks against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique urged the relevant institutions and civil society to take notice of the minister's "threats" and take action on the matter.

On Friday, Swati had lashed out at the ECP, accusing it of "always" rigging polls.

During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, chaired by PPP Senator Taj Haider and called to discuss proposed amendments to the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2021, he had commented that institutions like the ECP should be “set on fire”. Swati had also alleged that the commission took bribes to rig polls.

The amendments, proposed by the government, primarily seek the use of electronic voting machines in elections and giving expatriates the right to vote — two issues that have been a point of contention between the government and the opposition for long.

Swati's comments on the matter have drawn strong criticism from the opposition, including censure by Rafique on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, the PML-N leader said while referring to Swati's remarks: "They need to hold their tongue."

He said it was perhaps for the first time in history that "the ECP has taken a stand on principles," and in that case, it was the collective responsibility of the civil society, lawyers and political parties to take notice of the threats made against the ECP and take measures to defend and protect the country's institutions.

"If the government is making such threats, it is the responsibility of Pakistan's civil society and political parties to fulfil their responsibility and their voice [against such verbal attacks]," he reiterated.

He said that instead of responding to the ECP's objections over electoral reform with logical answers, the ruling party resorted to threatening the body.

On the matter of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf expressing the resolve to pass the election reforms bill, the PML-N leader said the bill could not be passed as it lacked the majority in the National Assembly.

He added that no one, including Pakistan's civil society and intelligence, would accept an election conducted via electronic voting machines (EVMs).

"Their majority in the National Assembly is fake," he said. "Who will accept legislation that is based on a fake majority?"

He further stated that electoral reforms had more to do with reaching a common ground with the opposition than legislation. "And if we don't agree [with the reforms], who would accept them?"

He then reiterated that relevant institutions, whose responsibility was to serve justice, should take notice of action over threats made against the ECP.

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