PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan declared that his government is aiming to pursue democratic changes in order to ensure political that the results are not contested in upcoming cand all winners and losers accept them. He has said that he wants to implement electronic voting for residents, including those living abroad, in this respect.
In reality, he has expressed a clear desire to have Senate elections by show of hands rather than the secret ballot that is currently the procedure. The prime minister accurately diagnosed the facilitation of collusion and vote-buying by secret balloting, and reminded political the people that his party had removed parliamentarians from its ranks who had been reported as having sold their vote. The prime minister, however, believed that in legislating these measures, the opposition would work with the government as the government did not have the requisite legislative numbers to force them through.
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The opposition, however, opposed these government proposals and said that it would put forward its own package of proposals for a substantive democratic process overhaul. Opposition leaders clarified that while as a matter of policy, they will not negotiate with the administration, they will continue to perform their legislative roles as well as their role in the committees.
It is positive that the need for democratic change is acknowledged by both sides. Yet the fact that the cornerstone of the electoral system, voting, remains contested is a tragic reflection on the state of affairs. Today, we have sunk to levels where visualising political opponents embracing some sort of electoral results is almost unlikely. As the Azad Kashmir polls are expected shortly, this bodes poorly for the regime. The nation still needs to hold local body polls in time.
Elections in general are fewer than three years out. It needs time to reform. Instead of sitting down down and hammering out the necessary laws, the parties have spent years fighting over change and accusing each other for sabotaging them. Things have come to such an end that it is very difficult to discuss and carry out survey change because of the current polarisation.
It’s unfortunate. The government and the opposition will speak about their own collection of ideas, but until there is a large consensus on both sides, they may not amount to much. Statements such as those given by the prime minister and opposition parties are more symbolic and less practical in the absence of such unity and the urgency to make it happen.
That is why it is important for senior parliamentarians to participate in any calm debate to forge a fundamental minimum consensus on democratic reforms. Any restructuring is better than zero. Before we move into a fresh round of electioneering, it is the duty of the political leadership to determine the democratic rules of the game. This is what lawmakers owe to themselves and to the country.