Monday Jun 07 2021
Web Desk

Next elections to be contested under new mechanism, says Fawad Chaudhry

Web Desk
The electronic voting machine installed at Parliament House. Photo: Press release. 

  • Shibli Faraz to hold practical demonstration of electronic voting machines this week, says Fawad Chaudhry. 
  • We promised to give the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis, says Chaudhry. 
  • Elections are rigged through returning officers as they are from the same constituency they serve in, says Babar Awan. 

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Monday said the upcoming general elections will be fought "under a new mechanism", announcing that the government had completed all arrangements related to using electronic voting machines (EVMs). 

"We had promised to provide overseas Pakistanis with the right to vote," said Chaudhry. "Shibli Faraz will hold a practical demonstration of the EVM at the election commission office this week. 

The minister said that the government has made it clear to the ECP that it will provide the institution all the support and help it needs to conduct voting on electronic machines.

"General Elections 2023 will be contested under a new mechanism," he said. 

Speaking outside the ECP office, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan said the commission had enacted roles but no law existed on electronic voting. 

"We introduced an ordinance for this [electronic voting]," he said. "General Elections 2023 will be contested on electronic voting," vowed the prime minister's adviser. 

Awan said the government would take the ordinance on electronic voting into Parliament. He clarified the government "will not be strict on the matter" of electoral reforms. 

The former PPP leader said elections are rigged through returning officers as they are from the same constituency they serve in. 

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

Electronic voting will allow over 7 million overseas Pakistanis to vote: Shibli Faraz

Earlier, Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz had said the introduction of electronic voting in Pakistan will eliminate manipulation, and that the system will enable more than seven million overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes.

Speaking during a press conference in Peshawar, the minister said that free and transparent elections are only possible with electronic voting machines (EVMs), therefore, the ECP has to accept it.

Faraz added that PM Khan strongly desires free, fair, transparent, and credible elections in the country and that was why Electronic Voting Machines was introduced so that overseas Pakistan could be given the right of votes, thus enabling them to participate in the country’s decision-making processes and ensuring rigging-free polls.

The minister had also said that a law has been promulgated authorising and binding the ECP to procure EVMs as well as enabling overseas Pakistanis to exercise their right to vote while staying in their country of residence in the next general elections.

To discourage horse-trading and massive use of money during elections, Faraz said the government had offered the Opposition to conduct the last Senate elections through a show of hands instead of secret balloting, but the move was rejected due to the Opposition's "ill intension."

Shehbaz rejects EVMs proposal

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had turned down the government's proposal to use electronic voting machines in the next general elections.

"The electronic voting system has been declared a failure by the entire world," the former Punjab chief minister had said a month earlier, adding that electoral reforms are undertaken with consultations of all key stakeholders, the public's opinion and by developing a consensus.

He had said the PML-N had undertaken electoral reforms in 2018 via consultations with all political parties in the country, including the PTI. "No one had any reservations with the electoral reforms undertaken during our era," he had said.