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ISLAMABAD: Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Monday announced that the upcoming general elections will be contested under a “new mechanism”.

Speaking outside the ECP office along with Minister for Science Shibli Faraz, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan and Advisor for Accountability Shahzad Akbar, he said that the government had completed all arrangements related to using electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Fawad said the basic right to vote has been provided to the overseas Pakistanis as promised. The government directed the ECP to provide the institution all the support and help it needs to conduct voting on electronic machines, he further added.

The minister further stated that the government was consulting the electoral authority with regard to the proposed reforms, while the same will be presented in the Parliament.

We discussed the proposed legislation for electoral reforms, electronic voting machines (EVMs), biometric system and i-voting, the minister said.

Fawad further said details of the proposed 49 amendments in the Electoral Reforms Bill, tabled in the National Assembly in October last year, were shared with the ECP.

He further said Shibli Faraz will hold a practical demonstration of the EVM at the election commission office this week, and the authority will appoint a consultant to generate an opinion in the matter.

Adviser to the Prime Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan said the commission had enacted rules but there is no law existed on electronic voting, while saying an ordinance for the electronic voting has been introduced.

"General Elections 2023 will be contested on electronic voting," said the adviser. Awan said the government would take the ordinance on electronic voting into Parliament.

He clarified that the government "will not be strict on the matter" of electoral reforms.

He said elections are rigged through returning officers as they are from the same constituency they serve in.

Awan said in the electoral reforms, the government planned to change this stipulation pertaining to the returning officers.

Electronic voting will allow over seven million overseas Pakistanis to vote, said Shibli Faraz.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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