EVMs can be tampered with to change election results, warns Ahsan Iqbal

Published November 18, 2021
From left to right, PML-N's Ahsan Iqbal, PPP's Sherry Rehman and others speak to media in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
From left to right, PML-N's Ahsan Iqbal, PPP's Sherry Rehman and others speak to media in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

Taking exception to the "hasty passage" of the electronic voting machines (EVM) bill in the joint parliamentary joint session a day ago, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday warned that EVMs could be tampered with to manipulate election results.

"Polling results can be doctored through changing a chip in EVMs and that is the reason most countries have discarded these machines," said Iqbal, while talking to media in Islamabad.

Iqbal's remarks come a day after the parliament's joint session approved 33 bills including the contentious Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021, which paved the way for the use of EVMs in the next general elections. The legislation drew strong criticism from the opposition, which claimed that the government was introducing electronic machines to doctor poll results for its own mileage.

Flanked by PPP's Sherry Rehman and other lawmakers, Iqbal said the opposition believed the judiciary would uphold the Constitution of Pakistan.

The PML-N leader said Nov 17 would be remembered as the darkest day in the history of Pakistan, adding that the opposition would have to take the "parliament issue" to the court.

"The government made the entire electoral process controversial through legislation disputed by other members of the House," he said, adding that the government neglected the Election Commission of Pakistan which was a major stakeholder in the election process.

He also accused the government of attempting to take control of all election arrangements in their hands.

Iqbal said a foundation had been laid to rig the next elections.

'Nadra helping govt for next election campaign'

Iqbal, quoting "information" given to his party, said that the Nadra chairman was allegedly using organisational resources and data for the government's campaign for the upcoming elections.

"If Nadra is found leaking national data to the government, they will be liable to face treason charges."

Reprimanding the government for its insistence to employ technology in conducting elections, the PML-N leader said Pakistan was a "beggar" in technology and Germany was the "king" of it.

"The Supreme Court in Germany termed that EVMs cannot keep the secrecy of people's vote and hence declared it unconstitutional," explained Iqbal.

He insisted that elections could only be held under laws agreed to by all stakeholders concerned. "If the government takes any step unilaterally, it will be against the [spirit of] fair and transparent polls."

'Whatever happened was worse than martial law'

Speaking on the occasion, Sherry Rehman fired a broadside at the government, saying the treasury benches trampled democratic norms through its "artificial majority" and that too in the presence of the speaker.

"Whatever happened in yesterday's session was worse than martial law and the government made an attempt to rig the next elections," she added.

She said the opposition had offered to resolve differences through talks, "but the NA speaker backtracked on his word and bulldozed the session a day after writing a letter to the opposition."

Rehman said the use of EVMs had been rejected the world over and countries like Germany Italy, US had all discarded it.

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