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Is the current i-Voting system for overseas Pakistanis secure?

The present internet voting system for overseas Pakistanis does not ensure vote secrecy, finds a confidential audit report prepared by a Spanish company for the government.

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According to Geo News, the present internet voting system for overseas Pakistanis does not ensure vote secrecy, finds a confidential audit report prepared by a Spanish company for the government.

The over 200-page report, seen by Geo.tv, has been prepared by Minsait, a Madrid-based company. Minsait was tasked by the Ministry of IT earlier this year to analyze the existing I-Voting system for expats, as well as offer recommendations to improve the system before the 2023 polls.

After a six-week audit, the report was presented by the company to the government on May 31.

The report states that the existing I-Voting system, which was sampled in 2018 by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), “does not fulfill the Constitutional requirements of vote secrecy,” adding that neither the voters nor the Election Commission has “any guarantee that the results obtained from the system represent the choices made by the voter.”

Former secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Kunwar Dilshad on Monday expressed his reservations against allowing overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes via the internet and said that the process will leave no room for confidentiality in voting.

“Through the process of internet balloting, all data will be transferred [from abroad] to the National Database & Registration Authority, therefore, there will be no confidentiality,” Dilshad said.

He went on to say that government spokespersons are resorting to political point-scoring, but the matter is a question of the ECP’s sovereignty.

Dilshad said that in the past, overseas Pakistanis would visit the country to especially cast their votes.

On June 10, the Government of Pakistan announced that it has given overseas Pakistanis the right to vote in the National Assembly.

Taking to Twitter, former special assistant to the prime minister for overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari confirmed the news and lauded the PTI-led government, particularly Prime Minister Imran Khan, for making it possible.

Read more: PM thanks overseas Pakistanis as remittances 43pc higher YoY

“Congratulations, my people, you have every right to become part of the decision-making process in this country,” he continued.

The decision was made as part of the Election Act Amendment Bill, 2020.

Earlier this month, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz had said that the introduction of electronic voting in Pakistan will eliminate manipulation, adding that the system will enable more than seven million overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes.

Does PML-N support overseas Pakistanis’ representation in parliament?

A day ago, PML-N Secretary-General Ahsan Iqbal said that his party supports the representation of overseas Pakistanis in the parliament. “Pakistanis settled abroad are our country’s assets,” said Iqbal.

However, he said that there are several proposals regarding how the votes of overseas Pakistanis can be guaranteed protection, which must be implemented after a national consensus.

Read more: Overseas Pakistanis to get inheritance certificates abroad through biometrics

Iqbal said that this will be imperative in ensuring there is no foreign intervention such as the one that was witnessed in the US elections. So the former ruling party apparently rejected the proposal of the government.

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