HARIPUR: The ministry of information technology has dropped the Telephone Industries of Pakistan (TIP), claiming to be the pioneer in developing the electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the country, from the list of potential suppliers, sources told Dawn.
The government promulgated a presidential ordinance on Saturday authorising and binding the Election Commission of Pakistan to procure EVMs for future elections.
The TIP Haripur, a state-owned enterprise, had introduced the EVM in the country about a decade ago, but surprisingly the the IT ministry is ignoring it and is on the lookout for new partners, the sources said.
They said the IT ministry, which is the parent ministry of TIP, had recently approached some private and public sector manufacturers for producing prototypes of the EVM for a demonstration before the ECP.
The state-owned enterprise claims to be the pioneer in developing EVMs a decade ago
But, according to the sources, the TIP, which pioneered the idea as a state-owned enterprise, and had done demonstrations several times before the ECP, Nadra, and the IT ministry, was not approached.
The sources said the TIP’s EVM was declared as the best and most effective after it conducted demonstrations before the ECP on Dec 31, 2013, and later before the election reforms committee of the National Assembly.
The TIP’s EVM, according to the sources, was used in a real environment during a by-election in 2012 in the constituency of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and its functioning was found up to the required standards.
“The ECP had also approved our EVM, which shows that the TIP product is the best,” claimed Javed Safdar, the former managing director of TIP. He said the TIP was capable of manufacturing cost-effective EVMs with capability to handle 16 candidates, who can be increased up to 128 at a time with no hang-up, no virus and no hacking.
“It consists of three units (control and verification, ballot and printing, and verification is based on CNIC and biometric, which means it can check election rigging most effectively.”
Mr Safdar said the government should rely on TIP potential, and finance its EVM project, which would in return help create new jobs through manufacturing of such machines.
Tahir Atiq Siddiqi, former DGM finance TIP and then in-charge of EVM project, said the ECP had asked TIP to plan for manufacturing 100 machines during 2013/14, but the fate of that order was not known at this stage.
He said he had led a team which had given over a dozen demonstrations in Nadra and ECP, where all the stakeholders had termed the TIP’s product technically viable and cost-effective.
To a question, he said being 100 per cent indigenous the TIP’s EVM cost between Rs30,000 to Rs34,000 per unit only.
Mr Siddiqi said TIP should be revived with the EVM project to help arrest unemployment and discourage imports.
When contacted, Taimur Khan, joint secretary of the IT ministry with additional charge of being TIP managing director, said he was not fully updated about the details of the EVM project, but as per files of the ministry the existing manpower and machinery of the TIP were not in a position to cater to the manufacturing requirements set for EVM.
When reminded about the information placed on the TIP’s official website regarding the salient features, he said he would check the information.
Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2021