CEC’s logical stand

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PROPAGANDA by vested interests notwithstanding, the remarks made by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja on Wednesday have once again proved his credentials as an officer who goes strictly by book when it comes to the discharge of his official responsibilities.

Addressing a ceremony in connection with the National Voters Day, he dilated upon the use of technology for elections, delimitation of constituencies and transparency in the electoral process and decisions of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

A sustained and politically motivated propaganda campaign has been launched against the CEC that he was the main hurdle in the way of introduction of EVMs in coming elections.

He, therefore, threw a challenge to critics to show even one instance where the ECP opposed EVMs or voting rights for Overseas Pakistanis.

In fact, the critics are just churning out statements while the ECP has the responsibility to ensure that transformation from manual to electronic voting takes place smoothly and in no way compromises the core objective of transparency and fairness of the voting and counting process.

There are serious objections about manipulation of the technology and that is why the Commission has to be extra-careful in the selection of the EVMs.

There are also other issues like the cost of machines, their procurement, storage, transportation and training of individuals involved, including the polling staff.

There are also question marks about the efficient and instant use of the technology in a country where literacy rate, especially among senior citizens, is comparatively low and secrecy of the votes cast.

Those pleading for immediate introduction of EVMs must realize there are numerous other stakeholders and their views also carry weight and their objections and concerns will have to be removed before nation-wide introduction of the new technology.

The CEC was also logical when he said the Commission would hold elections on existing delimitations in case of a delay in the issuance of final notification of the digital census.

The Commission is doing its job strictly in accordance with the provisions of the relevant laws and the Constitution and it needs firm support to discharge its obligations smoothly.