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EC’s decision will be final on EVMs: Alvi

EC’s decision will be final on EVMs: Alvi

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday said the final decision about implementation of the electoral processes would be taken by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

According to a press release, he was chairing a meeting of the sub-committee on emerging technologies in i-voting. He said the government organisations would facilitate the ECP in executing the reform process in a transparent manner.

President Alvi also called for addressing the reservations, raised by the ECP with regard to amending the electoral laws. He emphasised that vote was a fundamental right of every citizen, and they could not be deprived of their basic right due to the weaknesses of our system.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication (IT&T) Syed Aminul Haq, Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, Secretary Ministry of IT&T Dr Muhammad Sohail Rajput, Acting Chairman NADRA Brig (retd) Khalid Latif, DG (IT) ECP Khizer Aziz and other officials of the government.

Addressing the meeting, the president underlined the need for improving the existing electoral laws to enable about 9 million overseas Pakistanis to exercise their right to vote in line with the directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

He stressed the need for improving communication among the stakeholders concerned to address any misconceptions about i-voting for overseas Pakistanis. Referring to the Elections Act, 2017, Azam Khan Swati informed the meeting that 49 amendments were incorporated in the said Act with the consent of ECP and this time the relevant organisations should also support the ongoing reforms to ensure transparency and credibility of the electoral process.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said the electronic voting machines (EVMs) are the only option to prevent poll fraud, and ensure transparency in the electoral process.

He was presiding over a briefing on the use of electronic voting machines in elections in the country, which was attended by Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz, Leader of the House in Senate Dr Shehzad Wasim, Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib and Advisor to the Prime Minister Babar Awan.

The PM was given a detailed briefing on the progress made so far in the use of electronic voting machines and legislation regarding electoral reforms. He reiterated his commitment to ensure transparency in the use of electronic voting machines and to meet all constitutional requirements.

“Overseas Pakistanis are an asset to the country; they must be involved in the election process,” he added. The prime minister emphasised that the electoral reforms, electronic voting and voting process for overseas Pakistanis should be completed soon.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting on the progress of Ravi Urban City and Central Business District project, which was attended by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Special Assistant Dr Shahbaz Gill, Chairman New Pakistan Housing Authority Lt-Gen (retd) Anwar Ali Haider, Chief Executive Officer Ravi Urban Development Authority Imran Amin, Vice Chairman LDA SM Imran and senior officials.

The meeting was briefed on the progress made in these two key projects. The meeting was informed that development work at Sapphire-Bay would begin soon after the contract was issued the next week.

The approval process for the industrial zone would also be completed in June, after which the construction of infrastructure would begin. Iqra University, UMT and ISC would set up their campuses in the Ravi City. Iqra University has shown interest in building a hospital as well as its campus.

The meeting was briefed on the transfer of three WASA water treatment plants to Ravi City and the use of modern technology for wastewater treatment. The participants were also apprised of the instructions given by the Judicial Water Commission to the Environmental Protection Agency to expedite approval process for the Ravi City project.

The participants were informed that job quota had been allocated for the local population in the project. Initially, the project would provide employment to 100,000 local families. In addition, local people would get 50% discount on medical expenses.

Stressing importance of waste water treatment plants, especially in major cities like Lahore, the PM said that the use of modern technology was essential to meet the water shortage and water treatment plants.

The PM ordered for formulating an integrated and comprehensive strategy for water treatment and waste water disposal to ensure clean and plentiful supply of clean water to the urban population as well as additional water for agricultural purposes.

The meeting on Central Business District project was informed that the auction process would start in the first week of July 2021. A board had been set up for the Central Business District project, design assistance was being provided by Nespak and FWO, and development work was set to begin the next week.