Online scrutiny of nomination papers

IT is heartening to note that Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is considering use of latest technology to make the election process more transparent and efficient. Moving beyond manual scrutiny of nomination papers which was not only laborious but also had many lacunas in it, the ECP at its meeting on Monday decided to use a software for online scrutiny of nomination papers to be filed by the contesting candidates. For this purpose, the Commission has also instructed National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to develop an automated system that links the ECP with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the State Bank of Pakistan.
In fact the idea of creating a central automated online system for scrutiny of nomination papers was floated prior to the 2013 general election, however the idea could not be implemented for unknown reasons. Anyway it is a matter of satisfaction that at long last the ECP has given a go-ahead for the development of a system that will enable it to screen out tax evaders, loan defaulters and beneficiaries of written-off loans as well as convicts. Such a strict and complete scrutiny before the elections will also help the Commission to avoid complaints that used to pour in after the elections from losing candidates against winning candidates. Ultimately, this will also help save Commission’s resources and time on the conduct of by-elections. Now as little time is left in the next polls, the NADRA needs to develop the software at the earliest so that its efficiency could also be tested and flaws addressed well in time before the scrutiny process actually begins. With this, we also expect that the ECP will also put in place a system that enables our overseas Pakistanis to exercise their right of vote. As the ECP has also announced the appointment of returning officers for the next polls, it is also important that the Commission puts in place such stringent arrangements that nobody could raise finger on the transparency, fairness and credibility of the polls.

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