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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz on Thursday said that replacing outdated ballot system with modern electronic voting machines (EVMs) is the only solution to bring an end to poll controversies in the country.

Speaking at a presser here, he said that it was the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct free and fair elections and the Science and Technology Ministry had briefed about the EVM at every forum.

Faraz said that controversies after the elections were detrimental to a country’s democracy, due to which electoral reforms in the country was the need of the hour.

“The rumours are circulating that the government is insisting on use of the EVMs in the next general elections that it had developed itself,” said Faraz, adding that such misinformation was not beneficial in any way and was just confusing people.

Faraz said it was not necessary that the EVMs developed by the government would be used in the elections and that the ECP was responsible for procuring and purchasing the EVMs.

“Therefore, the government will not object to any EVM chosen by the ECP,” he maintained.

The PTI government did not want to impose anything, said Faraz, adding the government just proved by developing the EVMs that such things could be done in Pakistan as well.

“Having said that, it is clear that we have to conduct the next elections through use of technology,” he added.

“All the major institutions had agreed upon adopting the use of technology for free and fair elections.”

He said it was the ECP, which had guided the ministry to develop the EVMs, adding, “We developed the EVMs within three months and included things in the machines as per the ECP’s requirements.”

He continued that the ministry demonstrated the EVMs to the ECP but they formed a technical committee to oppose the machines.

Faraz said the government also invited the opposition to inspect the machines for their satisfaction, but they did not inspect the EVMs and opposed the machines for the sake of opposition.

He said the elements bent upon exploiting the outdated manual electoral system did not want the use of technology in the next elections, adding the opposition’s objections were fictional.

“The opposition has an advantage in sticking to the old system as they can rig the elections through it. If the new system is put in place, the rigging will not be possible and it does not suit the opposition parties,” he added.

He suggested that the ECP should hold meetings with the technical committee on a daily basis to carry forward the process of electoral reforms without wasting time.

While commenting on the ECP’s objections to the EVMs, he said the commission claimed that the ministry had not provided it with the documents related to the machines.

“We have provided everything to the ECP except two things i.e. service code and design of EVMs…the ECP has been asking for these two things, which my ministry will not provide,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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