Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said that electronic voting machine (EVM) technology will defeat rigging in the next general elections. He clarified that EVMs will not be connected to the internet and all mobile phone users can operate this voting machine easily.
He said that the opposition may not accept the government’s electoral reforms but should present their own reforms as consensus is required for the election reforms. Ch said the government has completed all 36 conditions of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Fawad and Babar Awan were talking to media persons in Islamabad on Wednesday. “EVM is being used in 20 countries but PPP and PML-N are not ready to come out from the era of parchi (physical) ballot,” he added.
The information minister also invited opposition parties to come and inspect the EVMs.
Fawad said what’s happening now is the results do not come till the morning after the polling time’s completion.
Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan said, “A country which is five times larger than Pakistan makes the Election Commission acceptable to all.” He was talking about India without naming it.
Babar Awan invited PML-N to see and review the model of the EVM machines. “Steps are being taken to rectify the shortcomings in the electoral system,” the SAPM said.
Babar Awan said that the government is ready to answer all the questions of the opposition regarding EVM machines. “The government has provided overseas Pakistanis a right to vote and empower the ECP as well,” he added.
No transparent election unless effective reforms adopted, govt tells Opposition
Earlier, then Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said democracy derived strength from free, fair and transparent elections and the opposition’s stance against open ballot in Senate elections was illogical and beyond comprehension.
Senator Shibli Faraz said instead of supporting the government’s efforts to introduce electoral reforms, the opposition was creating hurdles by opposing the holding of the Senate elections through the open ballot. “This was tantamount to encouraging horse-trading and corruption during the election process,” he maintained.
Punjab Senior Minister Abdul Aleem Khan has also said that electoral reforms were part of the PTI’s manifesto and Prime Minister Imran Khan will not go back on any action in this regard.
The provincial senior minister said that it was unfortunate not to support the government just because of political opposition. He asked the opposition parties not to miss this opportunity as it would improve the electoral system. If the election process in the country is strong, no one will blame anyone for rigging.
Reforms without consultation?
Recently, speaking at a news conference, Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood and Minister for Narcotics Control Azam Swati had announced a number of proposed changes to the Constitution and laws to reform the electoral process with the main suggestion of holding the Senate elections through an open vote instead of the current method of secret balloting.
According to them, the proposals had already been placed before the federal cabinet for approval after which these would be presented before parliament in the form of bills.
The two ministers were members of a special parliamentary committee constituted by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser in October 2018 on the opposition’s demand to probe charges of rigging in the elections held in July that year. The committee, however, failed to complete its task for a number of reasons, forcing the opposition parties to finally announce its boycott of the committee in June last year. The committee and a couple of sub-committees, however, continued to function and prepared recommendations to introduce electoral reforms.
The ministers had stated that the efforts would be made for evolving a broad-based consensus among all political parties on electoral reforms.
On the other hand, PPP vice president and parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman told daily Dawn that they had only heard about these proposed “reforms” through the media.
“There has been no consultation or discussion about Senate or general electoral reforms that we have all done extensive work on together,” she said, adding that “none of us have seen any draft of the proposal, nor has there been any kind of discussion at the parliamentary level where we all just met”.
She said it was odd that the party whose prime minister never came to the Senate, as they preferred rule by presidential ordinances, now suddenly wanted reforms in how the Senate was elected.