Will reject next elections from today if EVM bill is bulldozed: Bilawal

Addressing the session, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari criticised the government’s “one-sided” electoral reforms which have never before been seen in the country’s history.
He said that during the government of former premier Nawaz Sharif, the PML-N had a two-third majority. “If that government had unilaterally decided and used the majority to force reforms, then the PTI and the PPP would not have been able to do anything.
“If they had decided to introduce a Constitutional amendment, then we would have to accept their decision. But they achieved a consensus,” he said.
He said that if the government had followed in the footsteps of its predecessor, then the opposition would have taken part in the legislation process. “If we carried out reforms together then the next election would not be controversial and it would have been Khan Sahab’s success.”
However, he said that the opposition would not accept the results of the next election if the government continued in the manner it was proceeding in.
He said that the PML-N and the PPP supported giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis. “Despite this, the government wants to carry out one-sided legislation.”
Bilawal noted that overseas Pakistanis had representation in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and called for introducing a similar system.
“How can we accept your suggestion where Pakistanis sitting in Paris, California and Britain decide for the people of Karachi and the tribal areas? They should have their own electoral college.”
He said that the government’s efforts, that were based on bad intentions, had been underway for some time and said that it had given an NRO to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.
“If you have to give relief to anyone then it should be the poor people of Pakistan who are facing a multitude of problems […] how can you expect that we will permit you to use this House to give an NRO to that Indian spy?”
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif 
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday termed electronic voting machines (EVMs) “evil and vicious machines” and accused the government of not being sincere in creating a consensus on electoral reforms.
Addressing the joint session of parliament, Shehbaz said that the government and its allies wanted to bulldoze important bills. He termed it “illegal” and said that it was equivalent to spoiling the traditions of parliament.
Shehbaz, who had earlier today written a letter to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser airing his grievances about the haste in passing the bills without a consensus, said that initially the joint session was delayed after the government said it would consult with the opposition on the issue.
“You sent a letter to me and the whole joint opposition,” he said, adding that in response he submitted a comprehensive answer with “great suggestions”. “But speaker, you cancelled your contact and we received no answer from you.”
Commenting on the proposal for consultations, he called it a “ploy to buy time” so that the government could secure the votes it needed. “You had no intention of doing consultations on the issue.”
He said that there are always allegations of rigging during the elections. “This is the first time in history that there are allegations of rigging before the elections.”
He claimed that the “selected government” wanted to introduce EVMs because it can no longer ask the people for votes.
Talking about the results transmission system (RTS), the opposition leader said that the government came into power in 2018 using the ‘road transport system’. “Now the road transport system is being abandoned for the evil [and] vicious machine.”
Shehbaz asked the speaker to defer the joint session so “comprehensive consultation” could take place on the matter of electoral reforms.
Addressing Qaiser, Shehbaz said that the people will not forgive him if he allowed the bills to be bulldozed in today’s session and urged him to recognise his responsibility as speaker of the House. He also decried the “illegal and unconstitutional” way the bills were presented.
He said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which is responsible for carrying out fair and transparent elections, had also expressed its reservations about EVMs. “They want to pass these laws despite their reservations.”
He said that the party that had once talked about democracy, transparency and change, now wanted to pass “black laws”.
“If you allow this black law to be passed, then Pakistan will be severely damaged for which responsibility will be on you and them,” he said while addressing Qaiser.
Shehbaz also stated that the several countries had rejected the “evil and vicious machines”.
“If the government used the energy that it is spending on this issue to tackle inflation, then we might have seen a difference. But they are not concerned. They are only concerned with remaining in power without securing the people’s vote.”
‘EVMs will be used to bury evil, vicious designs’
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi began his speech by calling it a “historic day”, stating that parliament will pass laws to make the electoral process “clean and transparent”.
“Shehbaz said that the government wanted to introduce a black law. Absolutely not, the government wants to wash away the blackness of the past.”
The minister added that the government did not want to bulldoze legislation, and said that they had consulted opposition members so that their reservations could be incorporated into the bills. “You didn’t pay attention.”
Qureshi also rejected the impression that the government had previously cancelled the session because it did not have the numbers. “If we didn’t have the numbers, then how are we presenting these bills today? There is solidarity in government ranks and our allies are standing with us.”
He said that the government followed legislative procedures, adding that the session was adjourned to remove the questions some of their allies had.
“You call EVMs ‘evil and vicious machines’ and that is your right. But EVMs are not evil and vicious machines, they are being introduced to bury evil and vicious designs.” He said that the government wanted to prioritise a credible and transparent electoral process.
The minister said that overseas Pakistanis were the nation’s asset and the government wanted to involve them in policy and decision-making.
Following Qureshi’s address, there was a heated exchange between NA Speaker Qaiser and a parliamentarian. Qaiser warned the member of suspension and told him to “stay within your limits”.
“Is this the [right] way to talk?” the NA Speaker remarked before inviting PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to deliver his speech.

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