ISLAMABAD: Dr Arif Alvi, convener of a parliamentary sub-committee on electoral reforms, has said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has been asked to release advertisements inviting tenders for purchase of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Talking to Dawn here on Tuesday, Dr Alvi said the ECP had been asked to release advertisements inviting two tenders for purchase of 400 and 300,000 EVMs.

He said the ECP was expected to release the advertisements by the first week of March.

Dr Alvi, an MNA from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), said the 400 EVMs would be used during by-elections under a pilot programme to see the results.

He said 300,000 EVMs would be required to conduct the general elections in 2018 in one phase.

He said a decision regarding the use of the EVMs in the next elections would be made by the committee in the light of the tenders which the ECP would receive in response to its advertisements. “It all depends on the cost of the EVMs,” he said.

The PTI leader, however, was hopeful that the EVMs could be used in the 2018 elections if the political leadership exhibited sincerity.

Dr Alvi, who had been pleading hard for the grant of the right to vote to the overseas Pakistanis, said his committee had come to the conclusion that postal balloting was not feasible for the exercise and internet or cellular phone technologies could be used.

He said he would give briefing to the parent committee, headed by Zahid Hamid, on Wednesday about the recommendations about voting by overseas Pakistanis and use of EVMs.

Officials concerned of the Election Commission of Pakistan could be contacted for comments.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2016