- Minister for Science and Technology laments that the machines are being rejected by the Election Commission of Pakistan before appropriate inspection
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz underplayed on Wednesday concerns of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding Electronic Voting Machines' (EVMs) effectiveness to stop rigging, saying the next election will take place via this technology.
Speaking to media in Islamabad, the minister said that out of 37 objections raised by the ECP, 27 are related to the institution's capacity itself. "The remaining 10 have already been addressed by the EVM prepared locally," he said.
On Tuesday, the ECP had rejected the use of the EVM for the next election and submitted its 37-point objection report to the Senate Standing Committee.
The EVMs cannot stop rigging and the secrecy of the ballot paper cannot be ensured, the ECP said in the report.
In response, Faraz said the 27 points ECP believes are objectionable will have to be addressed by the commission itself, as they are not linked to the machine's usage.
He regretted that machines are being rejected before inspection. "We have presented the machine for an inspection today. How can ECP give their view before examining it?" he asked.
Sharing his view on the ECP's report, he said that it only talks about the negative aspects of EVMs which he said is unfortunate.
"It gives details from across the world on all issues with EVM, and misses all positive sides of it."
Reiterating Prime Minister Imran Khan's vision to ensure a free and fair election, he said that the next election will be historic as it is going to be the first election based on technology.
"This will be the first free and fair election in Pakistan’s history," he said, adding that "whatever recommendations ECP has given, they will be addressed before the election".
The government has been pushing to introduce election reforms to ensure transparency and fairness. However, the opposition has so far refused to cooperate, saying that the EVMs is another ploy of the government to rig the next election.
Last month, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had said that the government is ready to work with members of the opposition, but only those that are part of parliament, adding that those who are outside the system cannot be engaged in talks.
"The government is in contact with the opposition on the issue of EVMs and Internet voting," he said.
"We are consulting the opposition parties. A free and fair electoral process is in the interest of all democratic forces.”