NA approves bill revoking PTI’s electoral reforms regarding EVMs, voting rights to overseas Pakistanis

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar. Picture courtesy NA Twitter

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday passed the “Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022” to conduct pilot projects in by-elections before using I-Voting and electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the general elections.

Speaking on the occasion in the National Assembly, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar rejected the impression that the amendment is aimed at depriving overseas Pakistanis of their right to vote.

He said overseas Pakistanis are a precious asset of the country and the government does not believe in snatching their right to vote.

Regarding the use of EVMs, the law minister said they are not against the use of technology, but they have concerns about misuse of technology as the Results Transmission System (RTS) had failed in the 2018 elections to favour a particular political party.

He said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had also expressed its inability to hold elections through I-Voting and EVMs in a short span of time and without proper homework.

He said two amendments are being brought to revive the Elections Act 2017, enabling the ECP to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections.

Under the amendment in Section 94 of the Election Act, 2017, the ECP may conduct pilot projects for voting by overseas Pakistanis in by-elections to ascertain the technical efficacy, secrecy, security, and financial feasibility of such voting and shall share the results with the government, which shall, within 15 days from the commencement of a session of a House after the receipt of the report, lay the same before both Houses of the Parliament.

Under amendment in Section 103 of the Election Act, 2017, the ECP may conduct pilot projects for the utilization of EVMs and biometric verification system in the by-elections.

Speaking on the occasion, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Raja Riaz Ahmed has said the NA should complete its tenure and elections should be held on time.

‘Regressive and condemnable act’

Meanwhile, the PTI has strongly criticised the move and termed it a “regressive and condemnable act” of the government.

Taking to Twitter, PTI vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, “PTI gave over 9 million Overseas Pakistanis the right to vote. Today, this band of thieves and thugs removed this, disenfranchising a staggering number of Pakistanis and barred the use of electronic voting machines.”

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