ECP urged to encourage use of technology in polls

Published September 24, 2021
In this file photo, Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to support it in introducing electoral reforms.

“Holding transparent, free and fair elections is the prime responsibility and mandate of the ECP and the government does not want to interfere in its domain,” said federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz as he urged the commission to encourage the use of modern technology in general elections to ensure credible results.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Faraz requested the ECP to arrange meetings of the technical committee to review electronic voting machines (EVMs), developed by the Ministry of Science and Technology, on a daily basis. He said electronic voting machine was a concept and it was not necessary to use the prototype prepared by the ministry. “We only want technology-driven elections to ensure transparency in results.”

Mr Faraz said that post-election controversies damaged democracy in the country. He emphasised that transparent elections were imperative to strengthen parliament and democracy.

Shibli says opposition has rejected EVM without even testing it

“There has been speculation over the last few weeks that the government is adamant on introducing EVMs in next general elections and that people will not benefit from such things. As a result, the people are getting confused. However, all major institutions agree that technology must be used to make elections transparent,” the minister said.

“Use of technology is imperative to ensure accuracy and transparency in elections. It will help prevent rigging and eliminate mistrust over polling and compilation of results,” he added.

He said that the government would have had no objections to the use of imported costlier machines in elections if it was not confident in indigenous technological developments.

Mr Faraz said that the government had also invited the opposition to evaluate the performance of EVM and present their suggestions for further improvement, but in vein.

“The opposition has rejected EVM without even testing it. It should test the machine, find out flaws in it, if any, and recommend changes,” he said. “Political parties should set aside their own interests and work for the coming generations.”

In the past, political parties won elections through rigging and that was why they were unwilling to accept use of modern technology in polls, he said.

The minister said that the formation of joint parliamentary committee on electoral reforms by the National Assembly speaker was a welcoming sign.

He said that the way Prime Minister Imran Khan had introduced a neutral empire to end disputes in cricket, he wanted to introduce a transparent system in the political field through electoral reforms and use of technology.

The minister said that EVM demonstrations had also been given in the provincial assemblies, universities and the forums representing traders and lawyers.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2021

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