Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan Monday said the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and I-voting were revolutionary steps of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government as use of technology was essential for bringing transparency in the electoral process.
Addressing the meeting of Cabinet Committee on EVMs and I-Voting, they said after a long struggle, the government had presented the solution to make the electoral process transparent.
The meeting was attended by the officials of ministries of Science & Technology, and Information Technology.
Fawad said the losing parties never accepted their defeat by questioning the authenticity of election results. The losers in every election except the 1970s had not levelled rigging allegations, he added.
Making the polling process fair and transparent, he said, was the topmost priority of PTI government and the use of technology was imperative to achieve the desired results. The introduction of EVMs and I-voting were revolutionary steps in that regard, the minister added.
Fawad said the government would launch a media campaign to sensitize the public about the use of EVMs in the elections.
Speaking during the meeting, Advisor Dr Babar Awan said after tireless efforts, the solution of bringing transparency in electoral process had been presented before the countrymen.
“As a result of the hard work of COMSATS and other institutions, today we are going to take a revolutionary step of introducing electronic voting machines,” he said.
And now the PTI has brought an ordinance, when there are no upcoming elections to test EVMs and I-Voting before the 2023 polls.
Polls are scheduled in AJK in August, but election officials in AJK have already opted out of being used as an experiment.
— Benazir Shah (@Benazir_Shah) May 10, 2021
The use of EVMs in elections in neighbouring India, with population five times more than Pakistan’s, was an accepted norm, he added.
Awan said objections were raised in raised in every election as the defeated parties never admitted their defeat.
He said as the next general election was due in about two years, the PTI government was taking important steps to address the challenge of making the polling process transparent.
He said earlier the use of direct technology with reference to the EVMs was allowed but the Election Commission was not still ready to adopt it.
The Cabinet Committee on EVM and I-Voting considered the Federal Cabinet’s decision to finalize the EVMs to be used in next election. It was decided that NADRA would give a briefing to the committee on I-voting, he added.
The committee, he said, would also get a briefing on the steps taken in the light of the report of consultant of the Ministry of Information Technology as well as the upgrading of NADRA systems.
Moreover, he said, the Ministry of Science and Technology would convene a special meeting of the committee during the current week to finalize the EVM.
Suggestions for experimental use of EVMs in elections of various bodies were also considered but the final decision would be taken in the committee meeting.
It may be recalled that the Federal Cabinet had directed to start a special campaign for raising public awareness on electoral reforms, especially the introduction of EVMs and giving the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis.
It also directed that a locally manufactured EVM model be included for display at a function to be held on the completion of three years of the PTI government.
The Federal Cabinet, in its meeting on May 18, had constituted a committee comprising Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications and Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs to introduce EVMs and give voting rights to the overseas Pakistanis.
In addition, the cabinet, in its meeting on March 9, directed the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs to brief the cabinet in progress on introducing the electronic voting machine in elections, to give overseas Pakistanis the right to vote and to hold free fair and transparent and elections.
Read more: Why PTI wants electronic voting?
Every Cabinet meeting should be briefed on the progress made on reforms. The Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs briefed Federal Cabinet on the progress in that regard.
In addition, during a meeting held at the Ministry of Science and Technology on May 31, 2021, it was decided that the model of locally manufactured EVM would be on display through COMSATS, and NUST till July 17, 2021.