Electronic voting machines (EVMs) would be used in the 2023 general elections aimed at ensuring transparency in the polling exercise, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan announced on Wednesday.
“The 2023 elections, at any cost, will be held through electronic voting machines (EVMs),” he said while speaking at a press conference here along with Special Assistant to the PM on Political Communication Shabaz Gill.
Elaborating on the government’s plan, the PM’s adviser said the government would complete the legislative process for the use of EVMs in the next elections, i-voting and voting rights to overseas Pakistanis before the culmination of the current year.
“The legislation process would be completed this year after approval from the Senate or even through a joint session of parliament,” Awan said.
He said that the upcoming general elections in 2023 would be “transparent and fair” and complete cooperation would be made with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the purpose. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) had also requested for Rs2.2 billion and the government would ensure all available resources for the conduct of free and fair elections, he added.
Awan urged the opposition to show “political wisdom” and stand with the government for ensuring transparent elections.
“The government, ministers and parliamentary functionaries have invited the opposition several times but received no encouraging response,” he said, alleging that the opposition wanted the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) as they demanded during the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) related legislation.
He alleged that the two major opposition parties did not want to give voting rights to expatriates.
The PM’s adviser said the Supreme Court had also called for the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis and termed their rights equal to those residing in the country. He said that EVMs had not been prepared by the government and the public would be given demos of such a prototype machine through roadshows being planned by the science and technology ministry.
Awan claimed that Cantonment Boards elections on September 12 would be transparent and the opposition’s hue and cry before the conduct of elections was “irrational”. He said the opposition raised questions after defeat in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan elections but it remained silent after winning elections. He advised the opposition to learn to accept defeat in polls.
Read Shibli urges politicians to test EVMs
The PM’s adviser also shared details of the SC verdict in a case related to the 2013 general elections. He said that the 2013 elections were rigged as 35 per cent ‘Form 15’ in Punjab and mostly throughout Pakistan were found missing as per a 237-page report written by three judges of the Supreme Court. He added that the printing press was hired before GE-2013 with the purpose to “rig elections” while the vote-round up formula was not implemented in Punjab. More than 92,000 thumb impressions could not be identified and the demand of PTI to open four constituencies was declined, he added.
Earlier, the PM’s adviser said that no proposal or bill was under consideration of the government to limit the power of the judiciary, its independent working and institutional authority.
He said the government had neither prepared any constitutional bill nor supported any legislative proposal regarding the appointment of judges in apex court or superior courts.
No proposal was under consideration regarding the power of SC and authority of the president about it, increase in age limit of high courts' judges and their seniority, he added.
The government, he said, believed in “complete freedom of judiciary and its institutional authority.”
Moreover, SAPM on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill also expressed confidence that EVMs would be used in the next general elections.
“The next general elections will be not held in a traditional way,” he said and the opposition to evaluate EVMs themselves instead of protesting against the initiatives so that their apprehensions could be addressed.
He added that EVMs would also be utilised during press clubs, bars, clubs elections. He said media persons would be invited in the next few days for giving practical demonstrations about EVMs.
(WITH INPUT FROM APP)