According to a statement released by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office on Thursday, electronic voting is the only method to guarantee electoral transparency and avoid rigging. The PM made the remarks during a meeting in Islamabad when he was informed of the usage of electronic voting machines in the election process.
The briefing was attended by Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz, Senate Leader Senator Dr. Shehzad Wasim, Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, and Advisor to the Prime Minister Babar Awan.
The PM was briefed in detail on the progress achieved so far in the use of electronic voting machines and related laws.
PM Imran Khan reaffirmed his commitment to guaranteeing openness in the use of electronic voting machines in the election process, as well as to meet all constitutional criteria.
The current administration, according to the premier, is dedicated to maintaining openness in the country’s election process.
“Overseas Pakistanis are an asset of the country, they must be involved in the election process […] electoral reforms, electronic voting, and voting process for overseas Pakistanis should be completed soon,” he instructed the concerned officials.
On June 10, the House approved the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, which calls for the use of technology and contemporary devices to ensure fair, free, and transparent elections.
The law also aims to provide overseas Pakistanis voting rights, which may only be feasible if ECP is given exclusive power with technical help from NADRA and other organizations.
To accomplish the aforementioned goals, amendments to sections 94 and 103 of the Election Act, 2017 were requested.
Opposition parties have criticized the government’s electoral chances, with PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal claiming last week that the government had approved two legislation in the National Assembly that allowed it to “rig” the upcoming elections.
Last month, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) launched a new round of anti-government demonstrations after rejecting the government’s “one-sided” election changes, which include the deployment of electronic voting machines (EVMs).
“PDM rejects the government’s unilateral electoral reforms ordinance, including the voting machines, and terms it as pre-poll rigging,” PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had said, as he addressed a press conference alongside PDM leaders.
In this respect, he had suggested that Pakistan’s Election Commission, which is in charge of conducting fair elections, convene a conference of all political parties to reach a consensus on changes.
On the floor of the National Assembly on June 7, Information Minister Chaudhry claimed the Opposition has refused to talk to the administration on election changes.
“When we speak to them about electoral reforms, they ask us to first [amend] National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws,” he had said.