Former foreign minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday that the credibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was at stake as efforts were ongoing to steal by-polls on 20 vacant provincial assembly seats, Aaj News reported.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore alongside former Punjab minister Yasmin Rashid, Qureshi said that the by-elections on 20 seats are a matter of survival for the “Hamza Shehbaz-led government,” adding that the incumbent chief minister will try to "win them by any means."
He said that the ECP is an independent institution under the Constitution. However, he said that the current ECP setup has lost credibility, alleging that the forum takes dictation from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership.
Qureshi claimed that the PML-N has started pre-poll rigging ahead of by-elections, adding that the Chief Election Commissioner is also aiding the ruling party in this regard.
"Such actions put a question mark on the credibility of the institution, which is bound by the Constitution to hold free and fair elections in the country.
"For how long will we continue to demand an independent Election Commission? Whenever elections are held in the country, one or more parties express their reservations. Why can't we have a system that is acceptable by all," Qureshi asked, adding that PTI was ready to negotiate on the issue of electoral reforms with the government.
He also asked ECP to prove its neutrality and provide the nation with a free and fair election.
"Free and fair election is the need of the hour," he emphasized.
Earlier in the day, Qureshi said that the PTI government deserved the crown for the completion of FATF Action Plans.
In a statement, the former foreign minister said that when their government was legislating on FATF, both PPP and PML-N refused to cooperate.
"It is incomprehensible what the present government is trying to take credit today despite its opposition to the legislation," Qureshi remarked.