Shift in ECP’s stance on EVMs deals a blow to opposition

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 02:10 PM, 27 Nov, 2021
Shift in ECP’s stance on EVMs deals a blow to opposition
File photo.

When the Election Commission of Pakistan expressed its reservations about the government’s plan to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next elections, the opposition parties were very happy because this was the vindication of their stance on the subject. 

They thought that the tug-of-war between the polls body and the government would leave no option for the latter but to review its stand on the use of modern technology to rule out the possibility of manipulations that have been the hallmark of all elections held in the past. 

The ECP had raised as many as 37 objections to the proposed introduction of EVMs. 

In a document submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, it had warned that the machine was tampering-prone and its software could easily be altered. “It is nearly impossible to ensure that every machine is honest,” noted the document. 

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif in a statement also ridiculed the EVMs as evil, malicious machines that would be used to manipulate the next elections, which the ECP thinks are likely to be held in October 2023 when the PTI completes its five-year term. 

The PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari went even a step ahead by saying that his party rejects the results of the 2023 polls to be held on the basis of the EVMs. 

But now there is a complete shift in the ECP’s stance on the matter. 

A few days ago, the ECP sought funds from the government to mass-produce electronic voting machines for the upcoming general elections of 2023. 

The ECP wrote a letter to the government for this purpose. 

At least 800,000 EVMs will be mass-produced for the upcoming general elections.  

The poll body also asked for a warehouse to keep the 800,000 EVMs in a secure place. 

"ECP looks to develop proper infrastructure for the elections and monitor the entire process without any difficulty. For the development of infrastructure, ECP has requested the government to release the funds as soon as possible," the letter read. 

To weaken the PDM’s stance on the EVMs, the government will certainly take the measures sought by the ECP

But what will now be the opposition’s stance on the matter? 

A meeting of the PDM constituents is due to be held in Islamabad on December 6 to take a “final decision” to oust the PTI government. 

But before the summit, the PDM chief – Maulana Fazlur Rehman – has said that the caravan to oust the government has set off and now nobody will be able to stop it.  

While addressing a religious conference at Khanpur (Rahim Yar Khan) on Friday, he blasted the PTI government and its anti-people policies. 

Whatever the utterances of the PDM leaders, the shift in the ECP’s stand on the EVMs will deal a serious blow to the former. Their anti-EVMs position has been blunted. 

Needless to point out that the country is experiencing a very difficult situation. The common man is finding it hard to survive because of the skyrocketing prices of items of daily use. 

Patriotism demands that in the prevailing situation the opposition parties and the government should join hands to work out a strategy to give the poor a ray of hope. 

Everybody knows that the political parties are struggling for power while the common man wants ‘roti’. 

The inexperienced lot now in power can’t be expected to control the situation despite the establishment’s support. It has already dashed the hopes of the common man during its 39-month rule and cannot be expected to do miracles during the rest of their term in power. 

The opposition leaders should come up with ideas that can help improve the lot of the downtrodden. 

The protest plans, conceived by those who are sitting in the very assemblies they call the product of manipulated 2018 elections, should be abandoned immediately and fullest attention be given to the country’s uplift. 

The mere demands for ‘pure democracy’ cannot satisfy the starving millions.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.