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EVMs the only option

Haleem Adil Shaikh

The writer is PTI Sindh Vice-President.

The federal government’s goodwill can be gauged from the fact that Prime Minister Imran Khan has fulfilled another promise by introducing electoral reforms for transparent elections in the country. The Opposition parties should acknowledge the ruling Tehreek-e-Insaaf government by supporting the idea of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for a free and transparent election.  

That’s the reason, the federal government is waiting for the opposition’s suggestion for the electoral reforms. The EVM is being used successfully in India, which claims to be the world’s largest democracy, while other international countries are using it without any doubts.

The number of people, who have opposed the voting machines, has been seen to be negligible. Pakistan is among the countries where elections have always been dubious. Every political party talked about this issue but no agreement has been reached to date. Why the opposition parties are reframing from giving any suggestion if they have any doubts regarding the government-proposed electoral reforms.

The opposition has been calling for electoral reforms since 2011. Even if the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) raises concerns over the use of the EVMs, the decision has to be made by the Parliament. However, in this regard a consensus between the opposition and the government is vital.

For making the elections transparent, the federal government is currently trying to appease all stakeholders. The government has been under criticism since the day it realized its responsibility to address the issue. The reservations of the Election Commission can also be addressed but by sitting together because every time the electoral body had faced most allegations.

In 2013, serious allegations were levelled against the Election Commission, which proved to be somewhat true before the Judicial Commission. And today when the government was trying to remove the allegations, the electoral body itself appears opposing the reforms.

However, still, the government was willing to address all the reservations of Election commission and to correct the mistakes pointed out, knowing that the Election Commission of Pakistan is more powerful and independent than India.

Electronic Voting Machine is one of the significant steps to prevent the elections from getting rigged and if the Election Commission thinks that it’s cost or accuracy is its problem, then the body should know that the government is taking full responsibility for it.

Following the allegations levelled by political parties against each other in the recent by-elections, the government introduced electoral reforms to curb electoral fraud. While introducing the electronic voting machine for the forthcoming elections under the new procedure of the party, Fawad also sought consultation from all political parties and asked for further suggestions.

However, the opposition rejected the use of the electronic voting machine and didn’t provide any suggestion in this regard. Now showing great generosity, the government has invited the common men along with the opposition to express their opinion.

According to the Election Commission, there is less time for large-scale use of the machine in the upcoming general elections, which means the Election Commission has an objection. However, I think that if the opposition or the Election Commission has an alternative formula in this regard, it must come up with it.

Reservations can be addressed. At the same time, the federal government does not want to deprive Pakistanis abroad of their vote and obviously as a result of the personal desire of any individual, we cannot deprive our 9 million Pakistanis around the world of the right to vote.

I think the opposition parties should express their views instead of criticizing the government’s efforts, otherwise, it will be understood that they do not want the elections to be transparent. Their victory is to be stamped, and the fraudulent voting system they have had for decades continues.

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