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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and leader of the opposition 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 electoral reforms to ensure that future elections are fair, transparent, and reflect the genuine will of the electorate.

In a letter addressed to the CEC on Friday, the PML-N president 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.”

He said that 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.

“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, adding that the spirit of upholding the constitution must be at the centre of the reform plan. He said that the ECP is the Constitutional body responsible for holding of free, fair and impartial elections in the country. “It is thus responsibility of ECP to hold an inclusive dialogue with all political parties in the country on the subject of electoral reforms,” he added.

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, transparent, and reflect the genuine will of the electorate.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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