Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Sunday has again expressed concerns over the performance of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.
Addressing a press conference, flanked with the Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz, Fawad said that it seems like CEC is supporting opposition’s narrative. Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has raised baseless objections on electronic voting machine (EVM), he added.
Fawad Ch said that CEC is against the reforms suggested by the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). He further urged other members to come forward and review the decisions taken by Sikandar Sultan Raja.
During the presser, Senator Syed Shibli Faraz said that invalid observations raised over Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) without examining it thoroughly reflected lack of seriousness toward adopting technology for ensuring transparent elections.
He said that his ministry prepared a prototype of EVM and invited all the political parties, ECP and masses to examine the machine. But, he said, it was quite unfortunate that ECP had not extended such cooperation which it was supposed to offer.
The ECP gave a list of 37 objections, out of which 27 were related to the incapacity of ECP itself to handle EVMs.
The remaining 10 observations were related to the technical side corresponding to EVM including lack of ballot secrecy, lack of voter anonymity, lack of transparency, biasedness of machine, hackable, reusability of technology and easy upgradation, lack of evidence in election disputes, technical challenges, upgradation etc. He said the EVM prepared by his ministry addressed all these observations too.
Shibli Faraz added that EVM was prepared to consider 72 requirements given by ECP however, EVM was a concept and it was not necessary to use this specific EVM prototype prepared by his ministry as “we only want technology driven elections to ensure transparency in results”.
He said the ECP was creating such an atmosphere where it looked that it was not interested in adoption of such technology to ensure transparency in elections and just using delay tactics so that it would not be used in the upcoming elections.
He said the article 103 of electoral reforms 2017 clearly mentioned that the pilot projects to bring reforms in elections would be conducted.
“Why didn’t the ECP take any step to use EVM in around 10 by-election held during the last months”, he asked and emphasized, “ECP has to show seriousness, increase their capacity and play their due part in conducting technology driven elections in the country”.
“The national decision cannot be taken or hindered as per someone’s willingness. Apart from someone’s likeness or dislikeness, 2023 elections should be conducted through EVM,” he added.
The minister stated that the government had carried out serious efforts to ensure free and fair elections in the country, despite many other huge challenges.
He said the way Prime Minister, Imran Khan introduced a neutral empire to end any dispute in cricket, he wanted to introduce such a transparent system in the political field through introducing electoral reforms, adopting the technology.
He said, “Bringing transparency into elections is not a new stance but we have been raising this issue since the year 2009”.
The Supreme Court decision of the 2018 election, Judicial Commission report, ECP 2010 report, and High Court decision reflected the need to ensure transparency in elections for which use of technology was inevitable.