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ISLAMABAD: Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani has alleged that the internet-voting system is being introduced in the country to rig and manipulate elections.

“The i-voting system being put into place is flawed from its inception and has the ingredients of becoming a tool in the hands of forces that may want to manipulate elections in Pakistan,” warned the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader.

Talking to Dawn here on Wednesday, Mr Rabbani called for a thorough discussion on the issue in parliament before introducing the system.

The former senator recalled that the task force set up by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) itself had already expressed reservations over the move to allow overseas Pakistanis to use their right of vote through internet.

Mr Rabbani, who had also raised the issue in the Senate last week, said it was correct that i-voting was used in other countries, but no other country had such a large number of its citizens living in foreign countries like Pakistan. He said there were nearly six million overseas Pakistanis and if the system was hacked, it could alter the results.

The PPP leader said the very fact that the ECP and Nadra (National Database and Registration Authority) could not run the Results Transmission System (RTS) created serious doubts, the system could be subject to cybercrime and manipulation.

“There is no method to ensure that online a person is freely using his or her right of vote and is not being coerced by someone,” Mr Rabbani said, adding that the system also did not provide for the secrecy of the vote which was a violation of Section 94 of the Elections Act and Article 226 of the Constitution.

The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) is also opposed to the government’s decision to allow overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes through i-voting in the by-elections to be held in 41 constituencies of national and provincial assemblies next month.

Through a declaration issued after a parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, the PML-N stated that the government had taken the decision in haste and paved the way of “pre-poll rigging”.

The PML-N had also urged the ECP to take all parties on board on the issue of i-voting and satisfy technical experts in this regard.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2018