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PM Imran Khan terms ECP’s reasons against EVMs ‘strange’

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday wondered why the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had opposed the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and electoral reforms, as it was their job to conduct free, fair, and transparent elections in the country.

The prime minister made the remarks while addressing the members of the Parliament, where he laid emphasis on electoral reforms, saying that EVMs were necessary for free and fair elections.

“They provided strange reasons: What if there is no electricity in Balochistan, what if this happens, what if that happens,” the premier said, quoting ECP officials.

“Do they know what happens in the [traditional mode] of elections? Ballot papers are double stamped; the results arrive after 24 hours,” he said.

The only solution (for instant results) are EVMs, he said.

The prime minister said reforms are always met by opposition as they go against the “corrupt elements’ vested interest”.

The government is responsible for bringing electoral reforms, he said, reminding everyone that PTI had staged a 126-day sit-in in 2014 to push for reforms.

“We wanted to bring reforms so that the next elections would be fair,” he said.

PM Imran Khan censures ECP for opposing EVMs

Censuring the ECP for opposing EVMS and electoral reforms,  the premier said that  Pakistan has been failing at to conduct elections that were free, fair, transparent, and acceptable to all parties, for the past 50 years.

The decision to introduce EVMs was not made overnight, he said, noting that his government had studied election reports and came to the conclusion that EVMs were the solution to stop rigging.

“As soon as the elections are over, the result is in front of you. If someone wants to verify the [results], then they can check the paper trail,” the prime minister said, citing the benefits of EVMs.

He pointed out that the government had invited the Opposition on multiple occasions to discuss electoral reforms, but they refused to be a part of it, and did not propose another solution either.

“In the last 1.5 years, have they not helped the government, they did not bring any proposals; they just boycotted sessions,” the prime minister said.

‘This is how low our moral standards have fallen’

Highlighting the importance of electoral reforms, he said that the 2018 general elections were termed as “rigged” by the PML-N despite the election personnel being appointed during their tenure.

Politicians are aware of what happens during Senate elections, he said.

“Videos surfaced showing money being distributed [for horse-trading]. This is how low our moral standards have fallen. Public representatives are seen putting money in their bags, while the election commission and the government look on silently.”

“The Supreme Court said that verifiable votes should be introduced in Senate elections, but the Opposition parties and election commission opposed this,” he said, wondering why the government was being criticised for electoral reforms as it would gain no “personal benefit” from them.

The prime minister asked why, when everyone knew that horse-trading takes place in Senate elections, did the election commission and Opposition oppose electoral reforms.

The prime minister also wondered why the election commission and the Opposition opposed the electoral reforms despite videos showing lawmakers taking money.

‘Not everyone can do justice’

The prime minister told the parliamentarians that till they, who are the country’s leaders, do not change themselves, they cannot lift the moral standards of the nation.

“Not everyone can do justice; when you have a low moral standing, you enter into deals, you cannot fight mafias,” the prime minister said, noting that all this happens in the absence of free and fair elections.

“You are up against mafias who are against free and fair elections,” he said.

The prime minister told the lawmakers that the joint parliamentary session slated for tomorrow (Thursday) should be considered jihad, as it was not for his personal benefit, it was for the country.

Goal behind ‘Naya Pakistan’

The prime minister said he had entered politics to bring about change in the country, and that the goal behind “Naya Pakistan” was to put the nation back on track to fulfil its founders’ aims.

PM Imran Khan said the Opposition parties were the product of a corrupt system and they would always oppose electoral reforms in the country.

Speaking of the country’s founding fathers, he said: “Their health took a back seat […] in their struggle to form a country in line with Islamic teachings.” He added that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had established Riasat-e-Madina and set an example for the rest of the world.

The prime minister said Scandinavian countries, China, and Jews were progressing as they had followed the way of the Prophet. “Any person who follows his footsteps will thrive.”

The premier said if a nation’s morality remains intact, they cannot be beaten even with atomic bombs — just like Japan. PM Imran Khan said corruption thrives when a nation’s moral values decline.