Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Friday said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has always respected the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and it has no plan to stage a protest outside the ECP building. Addressing a press conference along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz, he said, “Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf respect the Election Commission of Pakistan and other institutions and there is no question of staging any protest outside the building of ECP.” He, however, added that institutions show their neutrality and freedom through their actions, not press releases. He said that it was inappropriate for the ECP to issue a press release on the premier’s address, adding that the latter had said nothing wrong when he had held the ECP responsible for the failure to ensure transparency in the Senate elections. “The responsibility to ensure transparency in the elections could not be fulfilled the way it should’ve been and horse-trading could not be prevented,” said Chaudhry. “Now, there’s no need to be upset about it,” the minister told the ECP. “You should be a little ashamed over it and there is a need to take preventive measures,” he added, while clarifying that the premier had said that the government and the ECP must work together towards this goal. “It is important to devise a mechanism that can prevent rigging and ensure free and fair elections,” he said. The federal minister said he had already offered to extend the cooperation of his ministry to the ECP and the chief election commissioner in devising those mechanisms such as traceable ballot papers which “except for you [ECP], no one else can see”. “Fair elections have always been a pillar of [Prime Minister] Imran Khan and [the] PTI’s politics,” he said, adding that the premier had always called for neutrality of institutions in politics. “No one wants to see the ECP stronger, more than us. I want to make the chief election commissioner and the members [of the ECP] believe that we want to see you and your character very strong.” He said he was ‘surprised’ that the ECP had asked any aggrieved parties to come forward with evidence when, according to the federal minister, numerous evidences were already present from videos to PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz’s speech saying, “our (PML-N) ticket has been sold.” “These are evidences themselves, you had to analyse them,” he said, claiming that the ECP had not even given heed to the directions of the Supreme Court (SC). “The directions of the SC are very clear […] the ECP does have the right under article 218-220 to use technology and take measures to make elections fair, free of horse trading and credible,” he said, adding that he is “hopeful” that the ECP would reflect on its stance and “will not rely on press releases but will prove its neutrality and independence through its measures”. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said the opposition did not give positive response to the Pakistan Teheek-e-Insaf’s initiatives for open balloting to hold free and transparent Senate elections because it did not suit their ideology and priorities. He said the scourge of corruption was introduced in politics after 1985 party-less elections when the persons like Nawaz Sharif had entered the political arena. The society’s social and ethical values, he said, were destroyed and importance was given to accumulating wealth instead of protecting the people’s interests. The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan joined politics with the slogan to end corrupt practices like horse-trading, use of money and bullying. He said elections were the essence of democracy. A building could not be erected properly if its foundation was faulty. With transparency in the electoral process, the image of institutions and parliamentarians could be restored, he added. Replying to the questions of media-persons, he said the PTI had expelled its members of the provincial assembly for violation of party discipline in the 2018 Senate elections and the media should ask the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) parties as to how many members they had expelled on that count.