ECP bound to hold next elections through EVMs: Fawad

Wednesday, Dec 01, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Two weeks after the passage of bills related to electoral reforms from joint sitting of Parliament, the federal cabinet on Tuesday noted that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was bound to hold all the next elections including by-polls through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

“The federal cabinet while discussing the most important decision on the EVM opined that after amendment to the [election] laws, it is mandatory for the election commission to hold all next by-polls through EVMs,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain told media persons after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“If elections are not conducted through EVMs, there is another opinion that the government will not be able to fund them,” he said, explaining the existing election laws that only gave legitimacy to the polls via the machines.”

He said Federal Minister for Law and Justice Dr Farogh Naseem was of the view that on prima facie, the government could only give funds to the ECP for elections if that were held through EVMs.

The government had formed a committee in that regard and the law ministry would give its opinion on the matter, Fawad added. The minister said the ECP should ensure the use of EVMs in all the next elections as the Parliament had given mandate in that regard.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan and Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar briefed the federal cabinet on new variant of coronavirus (Omicron).

It was told that new variant’s transmissibility was fastest among other kinds of the coronavirus and it was spreading at tenfold pace in those countries where it had been reported.

Lethality of variant and efficacy of vaccine against this variant was yet to be known, he said, adding the federal cabinet was told that those factors would be determined by next two to three weeks.

The federal cabinet has requested provincial governments to revamp their vaccination drives and appealed to the public to get inoculated at the earliest so that the new variant could be dealt with effectively.

He said the arrival of Omicron was imminent as the steps taken by the government could only delay it for a brief moment of time. Most important thing to deal with the variant was mask wearing and vaccination of the leftovers, he added.

Fawad said the federal cabinet had expressed serious reservations over the videos circulating on social media networking sites showing that votes were being bought for the upcoming by-election in Lahore.

He said such illegal activities would not come to the fore in the by-election, if steps were taken by the ECP against horse trading in the recent Senate election.

He urged the ECP to take the matter of purchase of votes by specific political parties in Lahore to a logical conclusion.

Fawad said the federal cabinet was briefed by Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz in detail about the total number of required EVMs for the elections.

He said formalities for receiving $3 billion dollars in safe deposits and $1.2 billion worth of oil supplies on differed payment from Saudi Arabia had been completed.

The minister said a presentation on weekly prices of kitchen items was also given to the federal cabinet and it was noted that there had been a steady decline in commodities prices.

He said prices of essential commodities in Karachi and Hyderabad were quite high which required urgent attention of the Sindh government.

The cabinet tasked Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam to devise a long term policy to control smog on permanent basis, he said.