ISLAMABAD: The PMLN President and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has urged Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja to invite all opposition parties for consultation to ascertain inclusivity and consensus over election reforms to ensure that future elections are fair, transparent and reflect the genuine will of the electorate.
The PMLN President has also written a letter to Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser asking him to give full access to media to the Parliament and remove obstacles for them to perform their professional duties.
In the letter to the CEC, Shehbaz said in view of the complaints of rigging in the 2018 elections, there is a dire need for evolving a national consensus on electoral reforms to ensure that next general elections are held in fair, free and transparent manner, without any interference.
The opposition leader said the present government’s unilateral actions to force its electoral reforms agenda without any consultation with the stakeholders, which conflicts with many constitutional provisions, will make future elections controversial. He pointed out that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has itself expressed serious concerns regarding the recent election bills bulldozed through the National Assembly in an objectionable manner.
Shehbaz said any election-related legislation must be based on broad-based consensus. “For meaningful electoral reforms, institutions have to ensure stakeholders’ input and ownership,” he stressed. He said the spirit of upholding the Constitution must be at the centre of the reform plan. He said the Election Commission is the constitutional body responsible for holding of free, fair and impartial elections in the country.
“It is thus responsibility of the ECP to hold an inclusive dialogue with all political parties in the country on the subject of electoral reforms,” he said. Shehbaz urged the CEC to invite all opposition parties for consultation to achieve a consensus-based reform plan, which can then be presented before the Parliament for passage, to ensure that future elections are fair and transparent.
In a letter to the NA speaker, the opposition leader said that after the third wave of the coronavirus, Parliament is now fully operational, but the media is still not allowed to use the area adjacent to Gate No 1. He demanded that all media should be given full access to the Parliament without any restriction or obstruction. He demanded the speaker to give the opposition opportunity to speak to media.