A new controversy has come into existence on the letter written by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) over the issue of internet voting. The letter got leaked and became the talk of the town in no time.
It revealed that NADRA wanted to sign a new contract of Rs2.4 billion with the ECP in connection with the development of an i-voting system in the presence of the existing agreement. The letter further asked why NADRA intended to discontinue the previous system which had the same output as would be of the newer one; if there were some loopholes in the existing system then who was responsible for those and how would they be removed.
The ECP also expressed its displeasure over the general tone used in the letter and said that it seemed as if ECP was a subordinate body of NADRA for the latter was dictating a constitutional body in an offensive manner.
NADRA used the tone as if ECP is its subordinate body, ECP letter revealed
A senior NADRA official told that the ECP was required to use the i-voting system in four by-elections in 2018 on trial basis. He however claimed that it was solely the ECP’s decision to use the system only in two by-elections in 2018 for which NADRA was required to provide technical support. The official added that the i-voting system was currently in ECP’s custody for which it was required to pay NADRA an amount of Rs28.5 million.
He further told that the new i-voting was proposed by the current chairman NADRA Tariq Malik as per the guidelines given by the government, federal cabinet, president and other concerned stakeholders.
NADRA wants to sign a new contract with ECP of Rs2.4 billion for developing new i-voting system even in the presence of already existing contract, ECP letter claimed
On the other side, the ECP also issued notices to two federal ministers, Fawad Chaudhry and Azam Swati to provide evidence (within seven days) of the allegations they had leveled on the commission and the Chief Election Commissioner in terms of corruption and rigging.
A week ago, Azam Swati blamed that the ECP was engaged in receiving “bribes and always rigging polls” and that such institutions should be burnt to ashes. He gave this statement during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs which was organized to make a debate on two controversial election-related bills.
On the same day, Fawad Chaudhry claimed that the ECP had turned to the opposition headquarters and CEC was functioning as its mouthpiece. He had warned the CEC from becoming a tool in the hands of small political parties by objecting the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) otherwise they would have to face the response.
Fawad had clarified that he was addressing the CEC who seemed to have sympathies for the PML-N supremo for his close connections with the latter and it had nothing to do with the whole ECP in this perspective. Ministers’ statements against the ECP and CEC led to a heated controversy, and the ECP team walked out of the Senate standing committee’s meeting to record their protest on last Friday.
They also claimed that the ministers were quite harsh and rude with them in another meeting held at Aiwan-e-Sadr.