Minister once again invites opposition to play role in electoral reforms

Published May 20, 2021
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan brief mediapersons about the electronic voting machine on Wednesday. — APP
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan brief mediapersons about the electronic voting machine on Wednesday. — APP

ISLAMABAD: Five days before commencement of formal debate on electoral reforms in the National Assembly, the government on Wednesday displayed functions of indigenous electronic voting machines (EVMs).

The EVM was displayed at Parliament House where a briefing was given to the media after practical demonstration of the gadget. The demonstration was led by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, Senator Faisal Javed and Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (Comsats) representative Nasir Malik.

Talking to media, Information Minister said initially the demonstration was being given to the Parliamentary reporters, while the members of National Press Club and Bar Associations would also be briefed on the working of the EVMs.

Electronic voting machines’ functions displayed

He said opposition parties would also be sensitised about the functioning of EVMs and their feedback would be welcomed, he added.

Fawad Chaudhry said a prototype of EVM had been installed at the Parliament House so that all the legislators could get themselves acquainted with the machine.

He said the ECP had given 36 conditions for the EVM when its manufacturing process was initiated a few years ago.

“I am proud of our scientists, engineers and institutions that all the 36 conditions have been fully met and incorporated in functioning of the EVMs,” the information minister said, adding “An EVM is as easy [in use] as a mobile phone.”

He said the EVMs would help ensure transparency and compile election results on a fast track basis.

The government has decided to start debate on electoral reforms in the National Assembly from coming Monday even if the opposition abstains.

Fawad said some political parties were in the habit of leveling allegation of rigging after being defeated in the elections which was also evident from the recent by-polls including Karachi’s (NA-249) where both the PML-N and PPP questioned its transparency.

“The biggest issue is that the elections’ result takes time after completion of polling, but this machine will help produce the result within minutes,” he maintained.

He again invited the opposition parties to come forward and play their due role in finalising the electoral reforms.

Fawad Chaudhry said the voting and result record would be maintained in both electronic and print form, adding a printed ballot would drop in the box automatically in front of the voter. “Now, there will be two records --electronic and paper-- ending any chance of manipulating the record and results.”

He elaborated that the relevant voter list, as per National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) record, of a polling station would be fed in EVMs installed there, so there would be no need of internet connectivity.

Leading the practical demonstration, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan said the EVM was such a model through which a neighbouring country, which was five-time bigger than Pakistan, had made its election process ‘acceptable’ to all.

He said it was unfortunate that in Pakistan the parties facing defeat leveled allegations of rigging. “This should come to an end,” he added.

He said basically, there were five EVMs of different types, out of which two were imported and three others being manufactured at different places in Pakistan. “All EVMs will be finalised by the ECP.”

“We invite opposition parties including PML-N leader, Shahbaz Sharif and PPP leader, Yousuf Raza Gilani to see the model,” he added.

A Comsats expert briefed the media about use of the EVM, of which prototype model had been placed in the Parliament House.

He said there were two steps of casting vote through this gadget including verification of voters by CNIC number or thumb impression, after which a voter would go to a specified area and select a candidate of his choice by pressing a button.

Following which, he said a record would be maintained automatically at the backend and a print of his vote would also come out and drop in the ballot box.

“The whole process would take 30 seconds,” he added.

Later, the expert gave a demonstration by casting his vote through the EVM.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2021

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