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Electronic Voting Necessary for Free and Fair Polls: Imran Khan

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Pakistan’s prime minister stresses early completion of methodology for internet voting by overseas Pakistanis

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday reiterated his belief that electronic voting is the only way to ensure transparency and prevent rigging in elections.

Addressing a meeting in Islamabad during which he was briefed on the use of electronic voting machines in future elections, he stressed that the incumbent government was committed to ensuring transparency in the electoral process, read a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

It said that the prime minister was provided a detailed briefing on the government’s progress in securing electronic voting machines and enacting legislation requiring the Election Commission of Pakistan to utilize technology for free and fair polls.

“Overseas Pakistanis are an asset of the country, they must be involved in the election process,” the prime minister was quoted as saying during the meeting. “Electoral reforms, electronic voting, and voting process for overseas Pakistanis should be completed soon,” he added.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz; Leader of the House in the Senate Shehzad Wasim; Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati; Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, and Adviser to the P.M. Babar Awan participated in the meeting with the prime minister.

The PTI-led government has been eager to implement electronic voting in Pakistan, as well as internet voting for overseas Pakistanis, bulldozing the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 through the National Assembly despite opposition protest. While the legislation still needs to be passed by the Senate before it becomes law, the opposition has already rejected it, alleging it would formalize “rigging” in the next general elections.

The ECP, earlier this week, issued a statement declaring that several amendments in the bill were unconstitutional and appeared to be diminishing its authority by granting greater powers to NADRA. It also regretted that the government had ignored its briefing on the viability of electronic voting and internet voting, adding that a pilot test of internet voting for overseas Pakistanis had been found to be flawed and needed to be altered before it could be utilized in general elections.

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