Govt links release of ECP funds to holding polls through EVMs

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Fawad says ECP bound to use machines in by polls

Staff Reporter
Islamabad

Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that there was a likelihood of the government not being able to fund elections that would not include the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Speaking after a federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad, he told media persons that the cabinet had discussed the matter at length and agreed that the Election Commission of Pakistan was bound to use EVMs in by-elections.

“And one of the points of view [shared in the meeting] was that the government could not fund any election held without [the use of] EVMs as after the recent amendment, the law [only] recognised polls involving the use of EVMs,” he said, adding that Law Minister Farogh Naseem had the same point of view.

The minister was referring to contentious amendments to the Elections Act, 2017, which were bulldozed through a joint session of parliament amid fervent protest by the opposition earlier this month.

The amendments allowed the use of EVMs and granted voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, on which the opposition has repeatedly expressed reservations.

Fawad told reporters on Tuesday that after deliberating on the matter in light of the recent amendment, the cabinet had formed a committee in this regard and the law ministry would also give its opinion.

“And it seems that we will only be able to release funds to the Election Commission [of Pakistan] for polls where EVMs will be used,” he reiterated, adding that the government now wanted the ECP to start working towards the induction of EVMs in elections.

Moreover, he said, Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz had shared during cabinet meeting a comprehensive plan on the use of EVMs, which included details such as how many machines would be required.

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