Progress on electoral reforms

Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the national assembly on Wednesday and shed light on a variety of topics ranging from next year budget, election reforms, COVID-19 and government response to pandemic, government’s Ehsaas Program, economic policy, foreign Policy, government’s vision of a welfare state and situation in Afghanistan. While speaking to the nation’s representatives, Prime Minister Imran Khan invited the opposition parties for a debate on electoral reforms for the sake of the future of democracy in the country. According to the Prime Minister, the election process of the country has been controversial since 1970, and the government is striving to improve the election process. The Prime Minister requested the opposition to sit with the government to discuss the election reforms proposed by the PTI government during the past. While referring to the campaign of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after the 2013 general elections, when his party wanted the audit of only four constituencies, but the then government did not accept the demand and the matter was decided by the court. He said that the introduction of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in elections besides ensuring transparency will also speed up announcement of election results. The Prime Minister further said that the government was also ready to listen to the opposition parties if they had any better proposal for election reforms. The PTI government had tabled an election reforms bill at the house floor during recent weeks, the bill was the sole effort of the PTI government and its allies, but it does not have consensus of opposition parties. Although, opposition opposed the bill, the Government and its allies went through the Assembly without forging consensus among the parties. The major opposition parties including PPP and PML-N categorically opposed the reforms suggested by the government including the use of EVMs and overseas Pakistanis online voting. Furthermore, the Election Commission of Pakistan also raised its reservations on major portions of proposed electoral reforms while urging those contrary to the constitution and obstructing the authority of ECP. Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif also offered his suggestions regarding the representation of overseas Pakistanis in the National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan. Shehbaz further supported the overseas Pakistanis right to vote in the Pakistan election process while being in Pakistan.
Government Spokespersons busted Shehbaz for proposing electoral reforms particularly regarding overseas Pakistan while labeling him an unwanted figure for them (overseas Pakistanis).

In fact, all political parties including PTI want to bring reforms in the electoral process but remain selective in their choice and resisted to other suggestions intolerantly. Currently, PTI wants to be sole champion of overseas Pakistanis right to vote and use of EVMs and is not ready to hear other parties in this deal. Interestingly, in case of Country’s electoral reforms, the contesting political parties are suggesting the rules of the game and trying to find a middle path. As per practice in vague or being claimed by the Prime Minister Imran Khan for appointment of a neutral empire, however, in case of electoral reforms the Prime Minister is totally limited to self-umpiring and his party is intimidating the opposition and ECP to accept their proposed reforms anyway. Suggestibly, the phenomenon of electoral reforms is a technical issue instead of a political and it must be resolved by technocrats, legal experts and other government officials instead of contesting political parties if they want to bring transparency in the process otherwise if they want to forge a give and take solution than it will be ok that players decide the rules for their match instead of neutral umpire.