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Maryam criticises govt for postponing joint session of parliament

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice-President Maryam Nawaz has lashed out at the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government for postponing the joint session of parliament that was scheduled for Thursday.
The session was being held for the passage of the controversial Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021, aimed at using electronic voting machines (EVMs) and granting voting rights to overseas Pakistanis.
The bill was earlier passed by the National Assembly but it was not adopted by the Senate within 90 days and thus it lapsed.
Also read: Allies have ‘concerns’ over EVM bill
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, in a news conference, said that the joint session was being deferred to build consensus with the opposition over the legislation pertaining to electoral reforms.

انتخابی اصلاحات ملک کے مستقبل کا معاملہ ہے، ہم نیک نیتی سے کوشش کر رہے ہیں کہ ان معاملات پر اتفاق رائے پیدا ہو اس سلسلے میں اسپیکر اسد قیصر کو اپوزیشن سے ایک بار پھر رابطہ کرنے کا کہا گیا ہے،تا کہ ایک متفقہ انتخابی اصلاحات کا بل لایا جا سکے
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) November 10, 2021

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had been asked to contact the opposition once again so that a unanimous electoral reforms bill could be introduced [in parliament], the minister added.

پارلیمان کے مشترکہ اجلاس کو اس مقصد کیلئے موْ خر کیا جا رہا ہے۔ ہمیں امید ہے اپوزیشن ان اہم اصلاحات پر سنجیدگی سے غور کرے گی اور ہم پاکستان کے مستقبل کیلئے ایک مشترکہ لائحہ عمل اختیار کر پائیں گے، تاہم ایسا نہ ہونے کی صورت میں ہم اصلاحات سے پیچھے نہیں ہٹ سکتے
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) November 10, 2021

“Electoral reforms are the future of the country and we are making efforts in good faith to build consensus over these matters,” he remarked.
Fawad hoped that the opposition would take the crucial reforms into consideration so that a joint action could be opted for the future of the country. “However, if this does not happen then we cannot backtrack from the reforms at any cost.”
Soon after, Maryam, in a tweet, responded by saying that the prime minister during a speech called on the parliamentarians to vote as if it was jihad.

ابھی ابھی ریجیکٹڈ خان صاحب تقریر جھاڑ رہے تھے کہ کل کے اراکین مشترکہ اجلاس میں جہاد سمجھ کر ووٹ کریں تو کیا قوم یہ پوچھ سکتی ہے کہ جہاد اچانک ملتوی ُکیوں کرنا پڑا ؟ ویسے تو قوم سب جانتی ہے مگر پھر بھی پوچھنا تو بنتا ہے!
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) November 10, 2021

“Can the nation ask why jihad had to be postponed so suddenly? The nation knows everything but the question had to be asked,” she added.
Last month, Maryam had said that the electronic voting machine was a government ploy to rig the next elections.
Speaking informally to the media in the courtroom and later outside the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after hearing of her appeal against her conviction in the Avenfield reference case, the PML-N vice-president fired a broadside against Prime Minister Imran Khan, calling him a “certified thief”.
“Imran Khan is a certified thief, who called other people thieves but couldn’t hide his own theft,” she said, as she referred to the premier’s speech during his sit-in in Islamabad in 2014. “He [Imran] himself had said that if petrol, flour and electricity are expensive then the prime minister is a thief.”
Maryam also opposed the government-proposed electoral reforms. About the EVMs, she said these were like the RTS [Results Transmission System] used in the 2018 election. “Like the RTS, now another story is being fabricated in the name of EVM. The electronic voting machine is a new way of rigging.”
Also read: Govt sticks to using EVMs in next elections
She also slammed the criticism of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by the incumbent government’s ministers. Maryam said that the ECP was being targeted because it pointed to the flaws in the EVM use and the inefficiency of the government.
PM asks parliamentarians to consider voting for EVMs bill ‘jihad’
Earlier in the day, PM Imran categorically said that the government’s bill on the use of EVMs was “not for vested interests, but a step towards a free and fair next general election”.
He said the beneficiaries of the corrupt system would, however, oppose the electoral reforms by any means for their vested interests.
He was addressing the members of the parliament ahead of the bill on EVMs which was scheduled to be tabled in the joint session. PM Imran said that the “mafia” and the “product of corruption” desired status-quo of the polling system.
He urged the parliamentarians to make the government’s move successful, considering it a “jihad” against corruption. “The objective of the electoral reforms is to uphold the spirit of democracy and give the coming generations a system based on the morality of truth and honesty,” he said.
He recalled joining politics 25 years ago to bring about a positive change in society and make the country a socio-welfare state.
The prime minister stressed that the 166-day sit-in of his party was also against rigging of polls, besides the demand for recounting of votes of four constituencies.
He regretted the practice of bribery witnessed in Senate polls was a shameful act on part of politicians, who opposed the proposal of an open ballot but quashed morality for vested interests.
He said public representatives should lead with their examples rather than get involved in corruption.
Opposition to give tough time to govt on EVMs
On Monday, all the opposition parties, including the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party, had decided to hold a joint protest against the government.
Bilawal expressed the resolve to oust the “incompetent” government by mounting pressure on it. The PPP leader lashed out at what he dubbed the “PTI-IMF nexus”, saying the government’s submission to the global lender had come at the cost of the livelihood of people.
“This is an important point on which the entire opposition has converged,” he remarked.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, concurring with the PPP chairman, affirmed that the opposition is united against the government on these issues. He alleged that a one-sided accountability process is being used as a tool against the opposition parties.
“To defend the people and their problems, whether it is inflation or an attempt to steal votes through EVMs (electronic voting machines), we are united in parliament against the government,” Bilawal said.
“We will expose the failed policies of the government and go to greater lengths to thwart any conspiracy of rigging and political revenge,” he said referring to the government’s proposed wide-ranging electoral reforms.
Allies express concern
Three of PTI’s allies have expressed reservations about recognising the electronic voting machine (EVM) bill.
PTI sources have said they had accepted all demands of the coalition partners and they were unaware what their concerns were now.
However, they added that grievances were common in political alliances and it was hoped that the coalition partners would support the legislation on transparent elections.
Last week, PM Imran had tried to take the government’s coalition partners into confidence on the convening of a joint session of parliament for legislation regarding electoral reforms and other important issues.
Later in the day, Fawad Chaudhry had confirmed that the premier had sought the support of the allies for electoral reforms, which included the use of EVMs and giving roughly nine million overseas Pakistani the right to vote in the next general elections.
“We [the government] presented 49-point electoral reform idea before the allies,” the minister said, adding that further briefings would be given to the coalition partners in this regard. “We have sought their support for the electoral reforms agenda and they have graciously agreed.”
He had added that the allies assured the prime minister of taking the reforms agenda forward and that they would stand by the government.

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