Tuesday Sep 07, 2021
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) cannot stop rigging in elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan said Tuesday, as it rejected the government's proposal to use them during polls.
There has been a heated debate between the government, the Opposition, and other stakeholders over the use of EVMs, with the Centre claiming it is a way forward to make the elections in the country transparent.
"The EVMs cannot be used to conduct free and transparent elections in line with the Constitution," the ECP said in a document submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs.
The ECP, explaining why the EVMs could not stop rigging, said it can be hacked, the machine can be easily tampered with, and the software can be easily changed.
The machine can misuse state power, and it cannot prevent horse-trading, the ECP maintained.
"There is no secrecy of the voter in the electronic voting machine; there is a lack of transparency; testing time before the next general election is less; stakeholders are not on board; people have not been taken into confidence," the ECP said, as it raised its objections.
The ECP highlighted it did not have enough funding to roll out the machines throughout the country, and it also asked the government how can it be sure of the machine's transparency.
Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, addressing a press conference earlier in the day, had said a detailed discussion was held on electoral reforms, with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz, and Minister for IT and Telecom Syed Amin ul Haq giving detailed briefings to the federal cabinet in this regard.
The information minister reiterated the claim that "no sitting government" had proposed electoral reforms, and PTI is the "first" to do so. "Nawaz Sharif's PML-N has never won an election without rigging, which is why they are not interested in changing the system."
If the system fails and becomes neutral then the Sharif family has "no future" in politics, he added.
"[PML-N Vice-President] Maryam Nawaz and [PPP Chairman] Bilawal Bhutto Zardari can become the prime ministers in case Pakistan's fortunes take a turn for the worst or there is intense rigging — there is no other way for them to become prime ministers," he said.
The information minister said no Opposition member has held talks with the government over electronic voting machines, nor have they reviewed the bills in this regard.
"Sitting at their homes, they reject all electoral reforms saying 'we don't accept it," he lamented, adding such an "inept" and "incompetent" Opposition had "never existed" in Pakistan.