The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has refuted reports in certain sections of the media that it was baulking at its responsibilities with regard to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) as it vehemently rejected the “pressure the body was being subjected to”.
In a statement issued on Friday, the ECP clarified that it was carrying out its tasks diligently, maintaining it will continue fulfilling its responsibilities without “buckling under pressure”.
“Even before the government’s legislation on the use of EVMs, the commission had been taking various steps regarding the use of technology.”
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The electoral body said that the three committees it had formed immediately after the legislation also presented their reports to the commission on Thursday.
“Acquisition of EVMs is a technical process that has to undergo various stages, including international tendering,” it said and outlined some of the important features of the procedure.
The ECP cannot ignore the international standards in tendering of machines, it noted and emphasised that third-party testing of the machines was critical to the process.
It said that a few persons who lacked clarity and information were making “irresponsible comments” which, it said, was tantamount to “misguiding the general public, civil society and the media”.
“If anyone needs an explanation of any sort then the doors of the ECP are open for them. They can visit the ECP any time. However, intervention into the work of the ECP should be avoided,” the ECP stated.
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The alarms and misgivings of the ECP appeared to be stirred by a statement from the Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz issued earlier in the day.
Talking to the media in Islamabad, Shibli Faraz charged the commission of using “delaying tactics” and showing disregard for the government’s concerns.
The minister said that the poll supervisory body should issue an international tender for the procurement of the electronic machines as soon as possible, and asked the ECP to specify which type of machine was needed.
While cautioning against “difficulties” that would ensue if considerable time was elapsed due to negligence, the minister warned that the body will have to answer for it. “The ECP should prove practically that it was not using delaying tactics,” he said and regretted that more than a month has already passed since the legislation.
He said that the commission should provide equal opportunities to the companies regarding EVM and issue tenders to those who meet international standards.
A day earlier, the commission had granted its committees on EVMs 10 more days to “improve their recommendations.” The three committees constituted last month presented their reports to the electoral body.
“The commission made certain observations and also gave few directions in this regard. The committees requested some more time to finalise their reports. The commission granted the request and gave 10 more days to further improve their recommendations,” the electoral body said.