ECP, NADRA urge media, political parties not to jump to conclusions

ISLAMABAD: Election Commission and NADRA have urged media and political parties to wait for the judgments of election petitions by Election Tribunals and do not jump to conclusions.

This appeal was made by Secretary of the Commission Ishtiak Ahmad and Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik while briefing newsmen in Islamabad Wednesday about different aspects of the process of verification of thumb impressions of voters by NADRA especially with reference to NA-256 Karachi.

Chairman NADRA clarified that it had recommended to the Election Commission the use of magnetic ink of special quality to be able to read thumb impressions afterwards.

He‚ however‚ said magnetic ink was not used in National Assembly constituencies NA-256 and NA-258.

He said thumb impressions of about fifty-seven thousand ballot papers of NA-256 could not be read by NADRA system as they were not up to the mark. He said NADRA would also examine ballots of six other constituencies and it would become clear whether or not magnetic ink was used there. He said the authority verified ballot papers that contained readable thumb impressions.

The Secretary Election Commission‚ however‚ said an elite institution PCSIR (Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) undertook to prepare magnetic ink of the desired properties and supply it for seventy thousand polling stations and the same ink was provided.

Ishtiak Ahmad said fourteen Election Tribunals – three each in Sindh‚ KPK and Balochistan and five in Punjab – are hearing about four hundred petitions and the commission would implement the verdict of the tribunals in these cases.

He said retired District and Sessions Judges were appointed as members of these tribunals and these would expeditiously process all these petitions.

He said for the first time voter lists containing photographs of voters were used and thumb impressions of voters were affixed on the ballot papers for subsequent verification. He said the system has started bearing fruit and hoped that the exercise would ensure more fairness of electoral process in future.

Both Chairman NADRA and Secretary Election Commission said electronic voting machines would be used for national‚ provincial and local elections after two years. These machines would also have bio-metric system making it possible to verify thumb impressions of voters at the time of casting of ballot rather than afterwards as is being done now.

Chairman NADRA said the Authority would be giving a demonstration to the Interior Minister about prototype of the machine soon. Secretary Election Commission said legal cover would also be needed for use of electronic voting.