Karachi: Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that electoral reforms without addressing the role of the establishment will not be useful.
While admitting that electoral reforms are required to stop rigging, the PPP chairman stressed in a press conference on Monday in Karachi that PPP does not want the establishment to have a role in politics and the electoral process.
His remarks came a few hours after Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary and Special Advisor to Prime Minister Babar Awan introduced the federal government’s proposed amendments to the Election Act which included sweeping changes including the right for vote for overseas Pakistanis, electronic machines and ending the secret ballot option for Senate elections.
Fawad Chaudhary had said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s desire that the proosed reforms go through parliament with consensus of all political parties.
“It would be better if ECP carries out electoral reforms,” Bilawal Bhutto said when asked about the proposed amendments, adding that PPP was already working on the issue. However, he was dismissive of government’s efforts. “It is strange that we sit with those that carried out rigging to stop rigging,” he remarked, adding that nobody took the federal government’s stance “seriously”. He also stressed that it was important that rigging in 2018 general elections and previous ones be acknowledged.
When asked about the controversy surrounding NA 249 elections held last week, the PPP Chairman asked archrivals Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to present solid proof if they had any. “The ECP can solve PML-N’s problems, not the military,” he said, in reference to PML-N candidate Miftah Ismael’s appeal to Rangers to take polling boxes under their protection. “This appeal to the army is an electoral setback. Asking the military to take polling boxes is irresponsible,” Bilawal Bhutto said. He stated that if the PML_N has a principled stance on the issue, then their demand is incomprehensible.
“Establishmnent had no role in NA 249,” he told the members of the press. When asked if his party was in contact with Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leader Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari replied in the negative.
Earlier in the press conference, the PPP leader introduced Benazir Mazdoor Card that the Sindh government had launched. “This card will help every laborer in being given his rights,” Bilawal said while listing the salient points of the project. “When the labor force will prosper, the economy will prosper,” he said, adding that PPP had met with labor leaders. “Initially the card will benefit 600,000 laborers buit we want this facility to be given to laborers across the province,” the PPP chairman remarked, terming the card “a revolutionary step”.
He also said that factories are not giving rights to laborers. “PPP has always raised voice for laborers,” he said.