ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Division has forwarded a summary to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seeking allocation of appropriate funds to procure 16 new printing machines as three presses of the country are unable to print 20 crores (200 million) ballot papers for the general elections 2018.
Official documents available with Pakistan Today reveal that managers of all three presses, including Printing Corporation of Pakistan (PCP), Pakistan Security Printing Corporation (PSPC) and Pakistan Post Foundation Press (PPF), have expressed inability to print more than 200 million ballot papers during a meeting with Election Commission Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza.
The meeting took place on September 26, 2016, to discuss the arrangements for the printing of ballot papers to be used in upcoming general elections.
The managers had communicated inability to print required ballot papers due to old and low capacity printing machines.
According to present printing capacity of three big presses of the country, the PCP can print only 54mn ballot papers, the PSPC can print 75mn, and the PPF can print 60mn ballot papers (large size ballot) and 90mn (single column ballot) ballot papers by working 20 hours per day in 20 days.
The documents also disclosed that the Cabinet Division had submitted a summary to the premier for allocation of appropriate funds (Rs864 million) to obtain 16 new two colour printing machines with an automatic numbering facility to increase the printing capacity of PCP to print 153.60 mn ballot papers in 20 days in addition to the existing capacity and resultantly the PCP would be able to print total up to 207.60 mn ballot papers.
General elections-2018 is scheduled to be held anytime in the country within 90 days after June 5, 2018. And, preparations and arrangements made so far in this regard clearly tell that an old method of voting through ballot papers is likely to be adopted in next general elections to dupe the gullible.
Interestingly, after previous general elections held in May 2013, all political parties except ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) blamed that the elections were rigged.
They all urged the government to bring reforms in the electoral system by introducing modern technologies.
And, an introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and biometric verification (BVMs) was part of bringing reforms in the electoral system. However, the government and opposition sides have so far shown a lack of interest regarding bringing reforms in the electoral system of the country.
Furthermore, the inability of three presses of the country to print enough ballot papers calls for the government attention besides, allocation of appropriate funds to procure 16 new printing machines. Also, there is need to introduce electronic voting in those parts of the country where 3 G and 4 G technology is available to make the election a fair, transparent and trustworthy exercise in the country.