Shehbaz calls APC on electoral reforms

PPP, ANP among parties invited to conference


RAMEEZ KHAN June 20, 2021

LAHORE:

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Friday decided to call an all-party conference (APC) to discuss the controversial electoral reforms bill.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the multi-party conference would be convened in the next week to discuss the controversial election reform bill and build consensus to intercept the bill to ensure transparent and fair elections.

To a question about the possibility of PPP and ANP being part of the conference, the spokesperson clarified that since the APC was being called by the opposition leader, and not under PDM, all opposition parties would be invited.

Read more: ‘Open ballot’ violates Article 226 of Constitution: ECP

“The purpose of the APC is to consult all the stakeholders who were not taken into confidence by the government regarding the electoral reforms,” she said, adding that the conference would also send invitations to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), PILDAT and FAFN.

The date of the conference would be announced after consultation with the stakeholders, she added.

Earlier, accusing the government of deceiving the opposition parties, PML-N General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal said that to bring normalcy back to the house, it was agreed between the two sides that opposition parties would not move a no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker.

He said that despite the perilous situation confronting the country in the region, the incumbent government was creating divides, instead of uniting the nation.

Also read: Shehbaz Sharif meets Chinese, British envoys in Islamabad

Lambasting the government’s reforms bill, Ahsan Iqbal said that “the government did not even bother to consult the ECP, let alone the opposition parties”.

“It was a blatant attempt by the government to manipulate the [next] general elections. If the task of preparing voter lists is handed over to NADRA then it would mean that the government would have direct control over the election process,” he said.

He said that article 51(5) and Article 219 of the constitution entrust the responsibility of holding free and fair elections to ECP.

Answering a question about Asif Ali Zardari, encamped in Lahore to expand his party’s political base, the general secretary said that PPP was against PTI, not PML-N.

“PPP lost its voters to PTI, not to PMLN”.

He said that all parties on opposition benches are working in tandem and that any divide on opposition benches would only benefit the government. “July 4 would prove that all parties in PDM are more united than ever”.

Regarding Shehbaz Sharif’s address in parliament that reflected the latter’s continued effort to toe a reconciliation policy, Ahsan said that everyone in PML-N and PDM shared the same approach.

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