Govt's offers to discuss electoral reforms appear unsuccessful.

ISLAMABAD -- The offer of discussion on electoral reforms by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the opposition seems to be unsuccessful in minimising the political tension between the government and the opposition.

The PTI's government, in its third attempt, is making an effort to hold a meaningful dialogue with the opposition parties to discuss the use of electoral voting machines (EVMs) to reclaim the credibility of elections in the country. The government in its first attempt informally invited opposition in the National Assembly to hold a discussion on complicated matters related to the electoral reforms. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, on a point of order, in the National Assembly proceedings invited the opposition to engage with the government on electoral reforms. However, the response was very discouraging as no parliamentary leader from opposition parties even responded to the proposal.

The second attempt was again from the government in the Parliament, but it also proved futile. Sensing the cold response from the joint opposition, the National Assembly speaker played a supportive role and dropped an idea to form a parliamentary committee on electoral reforms. The fate of this parliamentary body is also unclear as the opposition parties have still not shared names of their party members for their representation.

The fourth attempt was from Prime Minister Imran to directly invite the opposition to 'sit together' with the government and discuss the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) to reclaim the credibility. Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhary and PM's Advisor Dr Babar Awan also jointly held a press conference to gauge the seriousness of the opposition on this complicated matter.

Though the opposition has not flatly refused to work on electoral reforms, but they are not ready to give it preference in the current deadly wave of Coronavirus [COVID-19]. They asked the government to concentrate only on vaccination availability to all the citizens of the country.

'The neighboring country [India] is facing a dangerous situation due to infectious virus, we also need to only focus on COVID-19 as rest of the matters could be dealt with later,' says former National Assembly deputy speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi talking to this newspaper. 'Mr Prime Minister! There is a need to save lives,' commented PML-N's Chief Whip responding to the query related to the government's offer to hold dialogue on...

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