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ISLAMABAD: The government, on Monday proposed to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for using the technology to end corrupt practices from the electoral process to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections.

A government team comprising Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, and Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, held a meeting with the chief election commissioner and members of the election commission in Islamabad, and discussed the Senate elections in the light of the Supreme Court's opinion on the presidential reference.

Addressing the media outside the ECP, Mahmood said the SC decision "supports our stance and moves it forward."

The education minister was joined by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar, and PTI Senator Faisal Javed.

The education minister said the SC decision has led to the prevention of bad practices in the Senate elections. He said it was clearly written that it was the duty of the ECP to conduct free and fair election.

Shafqat said his party sees the SC decision in its favour, while, adding that the ministers had discussed the apex court’s decision in today’s meeting.

Awan, meanwhile, said the SC referred to a previous decision of the Supreme Court in 1967, which allowed for secrecy to be lifted considering the present circumstances.

The government believes in a strong and independent institution, he added.

"This is a decisive moment in Pakistan's history for elections to be conducted fairly," he said.

Chaudhry also said the SC's advice was clear that voters and their votes should be identifiable.

"This is the principle, on which, the prime minister and the cabinet sent this reference to the SC," said the federal minister.

"What is the SC decision? They have said that the secrecy of the ballot will remain secret for political parties but it won't be secret for the ECP. So if there are allegations of horse-trading or selling votes, the ECP can conduct an inquiry," said Chaudhry.

He said the government team during its meeting expressed confidence on the ECP.

He said in a post on Twitter that the SC had acknowledged the stance to end horse-trading and corrupt practices in the Senate polls, adding, it has not adhered to the principle of full secret ballot.

Information Minister Shibli Faraz also tweeted and hailed the decision as ‘historic.’

He said it was a bad day for businessmen and traders of people’s consciences, since the people who set up markets for buying and selling of votes will be disappointed.

This is a success of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of transparent elections, said the information minister, adding that technology would be used in the light of the SC decision to make transparency real, and make the identification of votes possible.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021