Bilawal

KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the most important and fundamental aspect for stopping electoral rigging is to stamp out the role of the establishment in elections.
Addressing a press conference flanked by other party leaders on Monday, the PPP chairman said that elections would continue to be controversial no matter how much legislation is done if the establishment has an active role in the electoral process.
He said that while there is a need for legislation and transitional reforms in the electoral process, “the most important and fundamental aspect for stopping rigging in elections – legislation is certainly one aspect – is the role of the establishment in elections.
He said that if the establishment could be kept at bay from the elections and if they could adopt an “impartial and apolitical attitude”, then there would be benefit to electoral reforms and reduction to rigging in elections.
Bilawal said that no “active participatory role” of the establishment had been observed in the NA-249 by-election in Karachi and therefore “we would want, not only that we do legislation but also build on the consensus that there is no interference of the establishment in electoral politics.”
Addressing a question on the PML-N’s demand to hand over the NA-249 polling boxes to the army’s custody, he said if the PML-N has any reservations on the by-poll results, then the relevant forums and methods are present for them to use and called on it to look to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
“Don’t appeal to the army, we don’t want that the PML-N has lost one seat so it is now appealing for the army to interfere in the electoral process.
The PPP chairman said he did not support the PML-N’s demand and called it “irresponsible”. “PML-N should seriously think whether their stance is only due to individual issues or do they want to take a principled stance.”
He said the PPP has consistently worked on electoral reforms and “we think there is great need that we don’t want a repetition of the rigging done in 2018,” adding that the PPP is ready to do any reform which needs to be done.
“The ECP can play a big and important role in this to engage political parties and gain their input. As far as the government is concerned, no one takes its stance seriously,” said Bilawal, adding that it is a “strange concept” that the PPP attempts to sit and stop rigging with “the one who does rigging”.
The PPP chairman also made note of the difficulties that journalists face and said it is their right to receive their wages on time.
Bilawal also talked at length about the Benazir Mazdoor Card and explained its benefits, the ideals of the PPP for launching it and the future path which was envisaged for it such as increasing its ambit to labour working in informal, private and agriculture sectors. – TLTP