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ISLAMABAD: The federal government has completed the preparation of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that would be placed before federal cabinet, Parliament, political parties, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and media for review before their introduction in the next general polls, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz announced Tuesday.

"The EVMs are ready," he told the media after attending the federal cabinet meeting. The minister said he briefed the cabinet regarding EVMs. "The preparation of EVMs is a milestone for the eradication of foul play from Pakistan's electoral process," he said. "The preparation of these EVMs comes in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to hold free and fair general elections in Pakistan so that no one can point fingers over electoral practices," he said.

The EVMs, he said, do not operate on internet or operating systems which make them foolproof from any kind of security breach. "There is no internet, no software or operating system on which EVMs function. That's why the EVMs cannot be rigged," Faraz said, adding that government would make sure that free and fair general polls are held in 2023.

In a related development, Chairman National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Tariq Malik briefed a meeting of the sub-committee of the federal cabinet on grant of voting right to overseas Pakistanis presided over by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan.

NADRA has started working on preparing mechanism for the grant of voting right to overseas Pakistanis in accordance with a related ordinance promulgated by federal government, NADRA chief said. This task would be completed in a year, he added.

The proposed system is a secure, transparent and verifiable system that has complete audit trail," Malik in his briefing. "Elections are not free and fair unless verifiable. The i-voting system that is being proposed would empower and enable the voter to verify that his/her vote is counted in the final count, he informed the committee. This is major improvement in the proposed i-voting system," Malik said.

The sub-panel decided that the officials of NADRA and Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication hold a meeting today (Wednesday) regarding voting right to overseas Pakistan and prepare a report that would be reviewed by the sub-committee on grant of voting right to overseas Pakistanis in its August 9 meeting.

In May this year, the federal government put on display the prototype EVMs at the Parliament House and invited political parties, media, ECP and Parliament to give their respective inputs on EVMs for their introduction in general elections scheduled in 2023. Also in May, the ECP decided to write a letter to the Ministry of Science and Technology for giving a demonstration to ECP related to the functioning of EVMs.

The meeting also decided to form a committee under the leadership of secretary ECP and comprising of the relevant officials from departments concerned to map out a strategy for voting right to overseas Pakistanis and introduction of EVMs in general elections.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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