ECP never opposed EVMs, overseas votes: CEC

Raja urges transparency in electoral process; delimitation of constituencies to take six months


Saqib Virk December 08, 2022

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ISLAMABAD:

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja on Wednesday said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did not oppose the use of Electric Voting Machines (EVMs) nor did it oppose voting by overseas Pakistanis.

He said against the notion “widely propagated”, the commission urged transparency in the polls, adding that the electoral watchdog was facing “unwarranted criticism”.

"I challenge all critics to show one instance where the ECP opposed electronic voting machines or voting rights for overseas Pakistanis, but there should be a procedure,” he said. He stressed one should refrain from slogans in favour of EVMs without considering the overall mechanism that would make the entire election process “suspicious”.

He made the remarks in light of criticism the commission has faced, particularly from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its chief Imran Khan, who has on a number of occasions accused the ECP of 'opposing' the use of EVMs to 'manipulate polls'.

The former ruling party has also accused the top poll supervisory body of being in cahoots with other political parties and institutions to subject it to undue tough time.

While addressing the event on Wednesday, the electoral chief said that the commission did not oppose EVMs or overseas votes but emphasised that transparency in the electoral process was mandatory.

CEC Raja also said that it will take six months for the delimitation of constituencies. He maintained that the ECP did not want doubts raised regarding election results if polls were held in haste.

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Without taking any names, Raja stated that everyone was equal before the ECP “from the worker to the party head” and that action was taken against workers, including the party chief for violating the code of conduct.

It is pertinent to note that on Monday the commission initiated proceedings to strip PTI chief Imran Khan of his party’s chairmanship following his disqualification in the Toshakhana reference.

In his address, the CEC added the success of the opposition in the by-elections is proof of the transparency of the electoral watchdog and that people's confidence in the commission had increased.

“Work on digital constituencies has not yet started. However, if the digital census results come in time, new constituencies will be prepared for the elections in time,” he said.

Raja furthered that constituencies were delimited twice for the local body elections in Punjab, while the provincial government changed election rules twice.

He added that the ECP has bound the provincial government to hold local body elections in Punjab and that the commission will use its authority to conduct the elections if the provincial government changed the rules again.

The CEC also said that due to rains and floods, the elections in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions were postponed and will now be held on January 15.

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