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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will seek from the federal government a demonstration of the functioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) being prepared by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The decision was taken in a top-level meeting Thursday presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and attended by Secretary ECP Dr Akhtar Nazir and other senior officials.

The meeting was informed that Ministry of Science and Technology is set to complete the preparation of locally made EVMs by May 31.

The meeting decided to write a letter to the ministry for giving a demonstration to ECP related to the functioning of EVMs.

The meeting also decided to form a committee to be led by the secretary ECP and to comprise of the relevant officials to map out a strategy for voting right to overseas Pakistanis and introduction of EVMs in general elections.

In addition, the ECP decided to write a letter to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication to share with the commission the findings of the audit of a Spanish firm into ECP’s pilot projects regarding voting rights to overseas Pakistanis.

In December 2018, ECP submitted its report to federal government regarding its pilot projects related to voting rights to overseas Pakistanis. The IT ministry had hired a Spanish firm Minsait for the audit of these pilot projects latest by May 31, 2021.

The ECP further decided to ask the federal government to share with the commission the results of the debate to be initiated in Parliament on voting right to overseas Pakistanis.

Furthermore, the meeting decided to ask the federal government to share with the electoral body the outcome of the reports into ECP’s pilot projects on EVMs that would be presented to the federal cabinet and the Parliament. The ECP had shared these reports with the federal government in December 2017 and April 2020.

In a significant development, the federal government, earlier on Wednesday, put on display the prototype EVMs at the Parliament House and invited political parties, media, lawyers’ fraternity and ECP to give their respective inputs on EVMs for their introduction in general elections scheduled in 2023.

In this regard, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry and Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan presided over a related ceremony at Parliament House, featuring the prototype EVMs, in the presence of journalists including members of Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA).

On the occasion, Ahsan Malik, an expert from the government’s side, demonstrated the use of EVMs by displaying mock voting.

Speaking on the occasion, the information minister said, the prototype EVMs would be provided to political parties, journalists’ bodies, bar councils and ECP for their respective inputs.

He urged the political parties; Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in particular, to join the government in introducing electoral reforms “instead of crying foul over rigging in elections.”

The PM’s advisor said the government is relying on five different types of EVMs out of which two are imported and three are locally made.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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