Almost half, or around 45.67 per cent of the total 81.21 million voters in the 2007 electoral rolls were dubious, if not downright bogus, raising serious doubts on the credibility of the electoral process of the country and authenticity of the 2008 general elections.
In its first phase of preparations for the new electoral rolls, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has found that over 37 million voters registered in the electoral register compiled in 2007 were dubious as they were either duplicated, multiple or bogus entries.
Of the total 81.21 million voters registered in the 2007 electoral list, on the basis of which the 2008 general elections were held, the authenticity of 37.18 million voters could not be verified when the ECP tallied this data with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) based system. This constitutes 45.67 per cent of the total voters who were registered in the electoral list.
The ECP has started a process of compiling new computerised electoral lists. The first phase of this process has been completed. The verification process revealed that only 44.02 million voters could be verified.
Of the 81.21 million, a total of 37.12 million voters were registered on the basis of computerised national identity cards (CNICs), 29.05 million were registered on the basis of manual identity cards (old identity cards), while another 15.02 million were registered without identity cards during the preparation of the electoral rolls in 2007.
In 2007, the ECP had decided to make computerised electoral rolls and compiled a draft voters list where millions of dubious voters were chucked out and the data contained over 52 million voters. The then opposition and now ruling party Pakistan Peoples Party, led by its assassinated chairperson Benazir Bhutto, had moved the Supreme Court and the incumbent judiciary led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to direct the ECP to make fresh registrations, waiving the condition of holding a computerised identity card.
The judiciary had given the ECP one month to complete the process since the election dates were already announced. Under the hustle, the ECP revisited its draft electoral list and included the leftover voters.
Now, the ECP has started a process of preparing fresh electoral lists in collaboration with NADRA. The first phase of this process was to verify the existing voter list by comparing it with the data available with NADRA. This process has been completed now.
In the second phase, the ECP will begin a door-to-door registration and verification process in June while it intends to print the final computerised electoral list by December this year.
The results of the first phase show that among the dubious entries made in 2007 electoral rolls, there were 2.14 million people whose CNICs have now been declared invalid due to a variety of reasons, and there were 2.49 duplicate entries of CNIC holders.
There were 6.469 million duplicate entries of manual NIC holders while another 11.05 million entries made on the basis of manual NICs do not exist in NADRA’s database.
Secretary election commission Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan said that after the verification of 44.02 million genuine voters from the 2007 electoral rolls, NADRA has added another 36.52 million voters from their CNIC database bringing the total number of eligible voters in the country to 80.54 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2011.
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