- Information minister had earlier described the chief of the commission as a 'mouthpiece of the opposition'
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has tendered an apology to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for his earlier remarks in which he had described the chief of the commission as a "mouthpiece of the opposition".
He had also alleged that the ECP had become a headquarters for the opposition parties.
During a hearing in Islamabad on Tuesday, Fawad told members of the ECP that he is a lawyer himself and does "not want to get caught up in show-cause notices".
"Lawyers do not start fights with the courts," responded the ECP members. "You fight inside the court, not outside them."
Fawad responded by saying that as the minister of information, whatever he says is the policy of the cabinet.
The minister said he "personally respects" the CEC, adding that he did not abuse anyone. "I am sorry," said the minister. "I apologise for my words."
The members of the election commission directed Chaudhry to submit his apology in writing.
Respect for CEC
Later, speaking to media, the minister said that he has immense respect for the chief election commissioner. "I am hopeful that the ECP would take my statement positively," he remarked.
The information minister said it is natural for the government to propose electoral reforms before elections. He urged the opposition to consider the proposed reforms.
Speaking about former Judge Shamim Rana’s statement, Chaudhry said the opposition, especially the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz had a history of attacking institutions. It first launched a smear campaign against the army and now it is conspiring against the judiciary, he stated.
He said that when individuals are used to malign the reputation of institutions, then a crisis ensues.
Earlier, after the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs rejected the proposal to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in the next general election, Fawad accused the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja of acting as a 'mouthpiece of the opposition'.
Fawad, in a hastily-arranged press conference a few hours after the development, said that the ECP has become "controversial and its structure is highly politicised".
"The ECP’s job is to organise and conduct elections impartially rather than engage in politics," he said. "ECP will not make laws as the parliament has the exclusive right to do so."