Meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Taj Haider here at Old PIPs Hall, Parliament Lodges, Islamabad.
Meeting commenced with briefing from Ministry of Science and technology regarding Electronic Voting Machines. Detailed multimedia step by step presentation was given by officials from Ministry of Science and technology on whole process and voting system with live demo through electronic voting machines.
Committee members raised different questions regarding efficacy and security of such a system. Committee members from opposition parties showed their reservations on Electronic voting machines concept and working.
Senator Ali Zafar said that EVM system is just a concept under consideration. This is jurisdiction of Election Commission to procure machinery/Necessary equipment and frame rules on its usage. Government should not be indulging in procurement and manufacturing of such technology. Only ECP should conduct experiments in this regard.
Replying to which Senator Shibli Faraz commented that government is advocating for EVM in order to bring about transparency in whole election process so that unnecessary controversy can be avoided in future elections.
Senator Mustafa Nawaz khokhar remarked that Election Commission of Pakistan has termed induction of EVMs as premature then why is government infringing upon the domain of Election Commission by going ahead with introduction of such technology.
Senator Sania Nishtar Expressed her disconcert on the objections raised by opposition members. Senator Sania Nishtar said that it is beyond comprehension as to why introduction of modern technology in today’s age and time is being opposed at such learned and prestigious forums. We need to evaluate what kind of issues does the EVM really solve and how the modern technology can bring about transparency in the election process. We must give technology a chance.
Chairman suggested that we should introduce technology in multiple phases and initially focus should be on biometric identification and verification of voters. Casting of votes through EVMs can also be considered later. To which senator Shibli Faraz replied that both the systems should be deployed in tandem in order to ensure transparency and efficacy.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan commented that “knowledge and technology is the way forward and opposition should not be afraid of Machines”
Officials from Election Commission of Pakistan briefed committee members regarding two Pilot Projects completed by the commission. Director General IT ECP outlined issues faced during those trials and informed the committee members that detailed reports were sent to the Parliament to which no reply has been received till date.
Committee members were invited by Senator Shibli Faraz to experience the voting process by physically inspecting the machine. Senators were facilitated by Ministry officials in a mock exercise through the use of EVMs.
Meeting was adjourned to meet again tomorrow for further deliberations on the matter.
Meeting was attended by Senator, Azam Khan Swati, Sania Nishtar, Abida Mohammad Azeem, Hilal ur Rehman, Farooq Hamid Naek, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Syed Ali Zafar, Walid Iqbal, Sameena Mumtaz, Special invitee Afnan ullah Khan, Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, Minister for Science and Technology Syed Shibli Faraz, Officials from Election Commission of Pakistan along with Chairman NADRA.