Sunday October 24, 2021

I-voting issue: ECP says not subordinate to Nadra

September 17, 2021
I-voting issue: ECP says not subordinate to Nadra

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday regretted the tone adopted by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Tariq Malik in a recent letter penned regarding progress on the i-voting system.

Recently, Nadra Chairman Tariq Malik had written a letter to the country’s supreme electoral body, asking it to make progress on the proposed system regarding the i-voting. The ECP, responding to the Nadra chairman via a letter, stated that it is the responsibility of the ECP to work on the new electoral system, but the tone adopted in the letter by Nadra is regrettable.

“The letter gave the impression like ECP is a subordinate to Nadra,” the letter reads and added that the language of Nadra chairman showed as he is giving orders to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The ECP asked why Nadra is looking for a new agreement of Rs2.4 billion for the i-voting project. Why Nadra left the earlier project initiated for i-voting in the country in between even after spending Rs65.5 million.

If the system was having flaws, the responsible was identified, the ECP asked. Last week, Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan had said that the federal government will ensure the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and i-voting in the elections at any cost.

When contacted, Nadra officials, they disclosed that the i-voting system earlier used was developed to be piloted by ECP in 4x by-elections for 38x constituencies in 2018. Whereas, it was ECP’s own decision to use it only in 2x by-elections in 2018. During that exercise, the role of Nadra was to provide technical support to ECP, whereas using i-voting system is the sole discretion of the commission.

It is pertinent to mention here that the i-voting system is already in place and currently in the custody of ECP. As per the contractual obligations, the ECP was supposed to release the long outstanding Rs28.5 million to Nadra.

In a bid to ensure accountability and transparency, Nadra Chairman Tariq Malik proposed a strategy and plan for new i-voting system as per guidelines laid down by the government of Pakistan, federal cabinet, President of Pakistan ECP, parliamentary committee, international auditors and other stakeholders. Through new proposed system, Nadra will assist ECP to develop its independent infrastructure, data centre with dedicated servers, Non-Nadra Dependent Network, third party software and human resource capacity building. The Election Commission will be independent of conducting i-voting for overseas Pakistanis. Nadra’s servers and computers will not be used in this system.

Nadra has urged the ECP to progress positively on the proposed system with a view to meeting the project plan timelines as per the expectations of all the stakeholders.