ISLAMABAD: Pakistani ministers on Sunday accused the country’s election body of derailing electoral reform by trying to prevent the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general elections.
Electoral reform has become a hot-button issue in Pakistan where political parties frequently raise rigging allegations against their rivals.
The government says it wants to address the problem by allowing electronic voting in the next general elections in October 2023, though the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and opposition parties say technology alone cannot ensure free, fair and transparent polls in the country.
“A campaign has been launched to discredit the EVMs," Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said while addressing a press conference alongside Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz in Islamabad.
"That is against the spirit of reforms the government wants to introduce."
Earlier this month, the ECP submitted to the Pakistani Senate a list of 37 objections, warning that a hasty use of EVMs could jeopardize the upcoming polls.
The ECP said a largescale deployment of these devices was not possible in a short span of time, especially when they had not been properly tested and provided no ballot secrecy, voter anonymity and necessary transparency at various levels.
“It seems as if the chief election commissioner is speaking the opposition’s language,” Chaudhry said, as he accused the election body of excluding from its report data that is in favor of EVMs.
As following the ECP's report Pakistan's Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs voted against the Election Act Amendment Bill that would introduce the use of voting machines, Chaudhry said it "will be passed through a joint sitting of the parliament" if the government and the opposition do not find a common stand on the issue.