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Friday, April 12, 2024

Set ECP on fire: Azam Swati

Railways Minister Azam Swati made some serious allegations against ECP. He accused ECP of taking bribes and set such institutions should be set on fire. His comments sparked outrage as the Opposition called out the minister's "seriously inappropriate behavior".

Friday, Railways Minister Azam Swati lashed out at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and used inappropriate words. After accusing ECP of rigging elections, Azam Swati said such institutions should be set on fire.

The remarks came during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Senator Taj Haider to discuss proposed amendments to the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2021.

A heated debate began when ECP expressed reservations on the usage of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). According to ECP, EVMs will not counter all types of fraud. Also, there are chances that EVM will open up the possibility of other more sophisticated types of fraud and manipulation of software and hardware.

Read more: Can government and opposition introduce electoral reforms?

Moreover, ECP also insisted that the Senate Committee should take into consideration the cost of EVMs. As per ECP, EVMs will cost an estimated Rs 150 billion.

This is when Minister Azam Swati lashed out. He accused the ECP of taking money from companies that make electronic voting machines.

The Opposition senators said that Swati cannot accuse a constitutional body of taking bribes, and asked the senator to provide proof to back his claim.

As a result, Swati then added that such institutions conduct all elections through rigging and they should burn.

Read more: SC says Senator Azam Swati should resign

Opposition reaction to Swati’s strong words

Following Swati’s remarks, the ECP officials who were present during the meeting staged a walkout in protest.

Furthermore, the Opposition also criticized his comments. PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that the Opposition only calls out flaws in individuals.

“Here the government is threatening to set the whole institution on fire and there is no one to ask?” Maryam Nawaz tweeted.

Even PPP Senator Sherry Rehman called out the minister’s “seriously inappropriate behavior”.

“If it does not bend to their will, to say a constitutional institution should be burnt down is like saying let’s just dispense with all democratic norms and get on with our model of one-party authoritarianism. Rig the system for us or trash it,” she said.