Home Latest News PTI Renews Calls for ECP to Set Timeline for EVMs, Internet Voting

PTI Renews Calls for ECP to Set Timeline for EVMs, Internet Voting

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Adviser to the P.M. on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan. Photo courtesy PID

Adviser to the P.M. on Parliamentary Affairs says fresh sessions of Parliament to discuss mob lynching of Sri Lankan national in Sialkot

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government on Monday renewed calls for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to formulate a firm timeline for the implementation of recently legislated electoral reforms, including the use of electronic voting machines in future elections and granting overseas Pakistanis the right to vote from their place of residence.

“The government wants the ECP to set a timeline for implementation of new legislation regarding EVMs and voting rights to overseas Pakistanis,” Adviser to the P.M. on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan told a press conference in Islamabad. “We hope the ECP will show seriousness and set timelines for implementation of electoral reforms-related legislation,” he said, reiterating that it was the ECP’s mandate to determine the specifications it needed for the EVMs.

Awan said the ECP should also set a timeline for overseas Pakistanis to register themselves as voters so they would be able to participate in the next general elections.

Last month, the government ‘bulldozed’ several amendments to the Elections Act, 2017 during a joint session of Parliament, allowing the use of EVMs in general elections and granting overseas Pakistanis the right to vote from their place of residence. The ECP has formed three committees to determine how to implement the new laws, but the government keeps insisting it needs to expedite the process. The opposition, meanwhile, maintains that the new amendments lack consensus and require more discussion before they can be implemented.

According to sources, the ECP has maintained that it is willing to implement the new legislation, but would only do so once it is “fully satisfied” that all its concerns over EVMs and internet voting have been resolved. It has also pushed back against the government’s claims of securing EVMs “within two months,” stressing that previous pilot projects required a tendering process of approximately nine months.

Senate elections

The adviser said that President Arif Alvi would summon fresh sessions of the Senate and National Assembly on Dec. 20 and 22, respectively, to introduce new legislations. He said that the federal cabinet was expected to approve, in a meeting on Tuesday (today), a government bill aimed at curbing the sale and purchase of votes in the Senate elections. He said the president had already sought the Supreme Court’s legal opinion on the rechecking of “doubtful” votes in Senate polls, adding that the apex court had ruled that such votes could be verified.

Mob lynching

The parliamentary sessions, said Awan, would also discuss the brutal lynching in Sialkot of Sri Lanka national Priyantha Kumara. He said this debate was being held on the advice of the prime minister.

Kumara, 48, had been employed as the manager of a factory in Sialkot and was brutally murdered by an enraged mob over charges of blasphemy. The mob of hundreds then set his body on fire, provoking nationwide outrage and calls for strict punishment for the perpetrators.

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