Buttons instead of stamps: Parliament authorizes govt to use EVMs in next general elections

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Islamabad November 17 (Online): Besides ruckus at the joint-session of The Parliament on Wednesday, the government managed to find a way to get Parliament’s approval to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and give voting right to overseas Pakistanis.
Among others, the Parliament on Wednesday passed Elections Second Amendment Bill, 2021, granting the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis and providing for use of electronic voting machines in the elections, along with bill to grant voting rights to overseas Pakistanis and ICJ review and reconsideration bill.
The ICJ review and reconsideration bill would grant the right of review and reconsideration in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case to bring into effect the judgment of the International Court of Justice.
‘Furious’ with the move, opposition members tore copies of today’s agenda and walked out of today’s meeting. Opposition lawmakers also assembled around Speaker AsadQaiser’s dice, chanting slogans against Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government.
Earlier at the start of today’s session, government had withdrew the bill regarding use of electronic voting machines, but later it was taken up again and put up to vote.
As the session started at around noon, Opposition leader and PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif lashed out at government and termed the EVM as ‘evil and vicious machine’.
ShahbazSharif , while addressing the joint session said that government and its allies wanted to bulldoze important bills that needed ‘mutual consensus’. Shahbaz termed the bills ‘illegal’ and said that government was ‘spoiling the parliamentary traditions’.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during his address to the session said that government was giving ‘NRO’ to Indian spy KalbhushanJadhav.
He took government to the cleaners and announced that opposition would challenge Wednesday’s legislation in courts. Bilawal said that government was introducing ‘one-sided reforms’.
Talking about the bill to grant voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, Bilawal said that opposition’s suggestion was to introduce an ‘AJK alike’ electoral procedure for overseas Pakistanis. He said that no one was opposing overseas Pakistanis’ right to vote.
He said that if we carried out reforms together then the next election would not be controversial and it would have been Khan Sahab’s success.
However, he said that the opposition would not accept the results of the next election if the government continued in the manner it was proceeding in.
Speaking about the EVM, he said even the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has rejected it and raised 37 serious objections over the machine.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that EVM would write-off ‘evil desires and methods’ forever. Opposition was ready to accept remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis but couldn’t accept their voting rights.
Qureshi termed parliament’s joint session as ‘historic day’ and said that electoral reforms are aimed at protecting the election process from being stolen. He asked the opposition parties to also vote in favor of the relevant bills.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that questions have always been raised on the elections held after 1970. He said time has come to set the direction right and ensure the transparency and credibility of the electoral process.
Qureshi said the government, on its part, time and again approached the opposition parties on electoral reforms. He said we repeatedly tried to give demonstrations to the opposition parties on Electronic Voting Machines. He said the aim of introducing EVMs is to bury the evil design and vicious mindset of imposing the governments.
The Foreign Minister said the PTI and its allied parties are fully united and have the majority to get the electoral reforms bill passed.
The Foreign Minister said the expatriate Pakistanis are our precious asset and they will be involved in the decision making. He said the overseas Pakistanis will be given the right to franchise.