Railways Minister Azam Swati on Monday again came down hard on Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, saying that he was speaking the opposition’s language to ‘mess around with the government’. “Today, you [the CEC] are speaking the opposition’s language … and messing around with the government. We are standing as an iron wall so stop us if you can,” the federal minister said while speaking at a press conference along with Advisor to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan. He said that many aspects regarding the appointment of Sikandar Sultan Raja are a ‘secret’ and he cannot reveal them as he is honour bound. “If we didn’t respect the ECP, we would have never appointed you,” he said, adding that the government confirmed his appointment to abide by the constitution and protect the ECP’s dignity despite knowing that he was allegedly close with the Sharifs. He said the government had to swallow the ‘bitter pill’ to preserve the sanctity of this constitutional institution. “I don’t want to and won’t reveal how you [CEC] were appointed,” he reiterated. He questioned why the CEC had made no progress on pilot programmes as ordered previously by the Supreme Court or the parliament through the Elections Act 2017. “You [Sikandar Sultan Raja] were made the chief election commissioner so you could make arrangements for EVMs (electronic voting machines) so that the future generations do not raise a finger [on the legitimacy of the elections]. The Supreme Court had given you a pilot project. What happened to it?” he asked. “I again remind you Sikandar Sultan Raja sahab that only the one who accepts defeat, loses. Come and see whether the law and the Constitution are greater or your own being,” Swati said, and asked the CEC on “whose instructions are you destroying such a great institution”. “I, this nation and overseas Pakistanis want to ask you this.” Responding to a question on whether the government was ready to sit down with the ECP, Swati clarified: “We don’t have a quarrel with the ECP but with Raja Sultan.” According to the railways minister, the entire purpose of the press conference was to send this message: “Raja sahab you cannot violate the law or the Constitution […] When the parliament passes its voice through a law then under the leadership of [Prime Minister] Imran Khan, we will [bring] a fantastic [electoral] system. You will buy the [electronic voting] machines and you will also do work. We will go to the Supreme Court if we need to.” Regarding the notice sent to him by the ECP for his tirade against the institution, Swati questioned how many such similar notices had been sent to other political leaders from the opposition. “How many notices has the ECP sent to Maryam Nawaz and Fazlur Rehman that it has sent a notice to me?” he asked. He said that the government is committed to bringing a system to hold uncontroversial and fair elections in 2023. “Will you deprive the Pakistanis abroad of the right to vote? At whose behest are you bent on destroying such a great institution?” he asked the CEC. Speaking on the occasion, Babar Awan said that government would ensure legislation for transparent elections in future and was also ready to talk with opposition on electoral reforms as well as EVMs. He said that a joint parliamentary committee had been proposed for negotiations on electoral reforms which would include the members from both sides of aisle. He said that a motion would be moved in the Senate and National Assembly requesting the chairman and speaker to nominate members of the respective houses in this committee. He said the government had contacted with the opposition last week following the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan and was ready to take confidence building measures on electoral reforms. The formation of Joint Parliamentary Committee is the part of these measures and electoral reforms will be ensured through it. However, the advisor clarified that electoral reforms were the fate of the nation as the government wanted to give a transparent election system to the people. Dr Babar Awan said that EVMs had been used in 72 countries while credibility on these machines increased from 35 percent to 89 percent during the last three elections in Philippine having the population of around 111 million people. Advisor to Prime Minister said that PPPP government talked about EVMs in 2009 while the ECP and the previous governments from 2014 to 2016 also deliberated on it. He said that a parliamentary delegation including PPPP leader Syed Naveed Qamar, PML-N leader Murtaza Javed Abbassi and the then opposition member and incumbent President Dr Arif Alvi also conducted a foreign visit in the past to witness election conducted through EVMs. Therefore, he said that it was morally incorrect to oppose the EVMs by the opposition members at this stage.