Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Sunday accused the chief election commissioner and the opposition of creating hurdles in the way of electoral reforms and running a campaign against the electronic voting machines “The way the ECP has raised objections on the EVMs, it reflects a particular mindset … CEC and the Opposition are speaking the same language,” he told a press conference along with Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz. “The CEC is against EVMs under some agenda,” he further said. “The chief election commissioner should distance himself from controversial matters as it is requirement of his post, otherwise he should quit and join politics,” he added. Fawad said Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and chief election commissioner are two different things and the government has strong reservations on the conduct of the CEC. Similarly, he said, the opposition should shun narrow minded approach and think in the larger national interest. Fawad said that the 2023 general elections will only be held after electoral reforms take place. He said the government had given 49 proposals for reforms and the opposition was neither accepting them nor bringing their own proposals. The CEC has seemingly decided against the EVM without even considering the report, he said, adding that the CEC scrapped all the supporting arguments in favour of the EVMs from the report to rob it of its substance. He said the debate for reformation of electoral system and introduction of electronic voting machines was not new, adding that the ECP had raised a few frivolous objections over the use of EVMs in the next general elections. The minister opined that it appeared that the ECP was speaking the language of the opposition parties. He said opposition has the right to openly express its viewpoint but the office-bearers of a national institution like ECP cannot behave like opposition. Fawad also questioned the CEC’s absence in meetings attended by the president, saying that ‘this is not a banana republic’ for him to behave this way. “He doesn’t bother about the Supreme Court, the president of Pakistan, National Database and Registration Authority, or anything, if he is not in a good mood,” he alleged. Fawad urged the members of the ECP to review the decisions. He said presently the posts of Punjab and KP members are vacant and fundamental decisions cannot be taken. He said if the ECP would create hurdles in the use of technology, it would result in a new crisis. Criticizing the opposition’s attitude, he said they rejected the EVMs without bothering to attend any demonstration given by the Ministry of Science and Technology. Similarly, he said, the opposition parties participated in the media protest against proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) without going through its details. He said they faced humiliation when the media organizations agreed to form a joint committee on PMDA. He said the opposition parties were opposing the government for the sake of opposition and they would be ready to join hands with the devil to discredit the incumbent government. He said the opposition’s attitude was against the spirit of parliamentary form of democracy in which one has to think above personal interest. The minister maintained that it was the responsibility of the parliament to decide the process of conducting elections in the country and the ECP should respect the decision. Parliament would decide whether next elections would be held under the traditional voting system or through EVMs. He said a joint session of the parliament would be summoned, adding, its decision would be final and binding. He said Supreme Court had issued directives to EVP to use technology in senate elections held in March this year but, its order was neglected. Fawad said no action was taken by ECP on the video footage related to the proof of sale and purchase of votes in Senate elections for the seat of Yousuf Raza Gilani. Stating that Pakistan was not a banana republic, he said the government had shown restraints regarding the remarks of CEC and even tolerated personal attacks on its leadership. Fawad said the government wanted to take the opposition into confidence regarding electoral reforms. “We think those elections will be better in which the government and the opposition are on the same platform,” he said. However, he added, if the opposition refused to move beyond the cases against it then “we will be forced”. “We can’t leave everything and go for the 2028 [general election]. The 2023 general elections will be based on and only possible after reforms – there is no other way [possible] except this,” he added.