The National Data Base and Registration Authority (NADRA) has become a hurdle in the way of electronic voting in the National Assembly (NA) constituency NA-120 and PP-4 (Gujar Khan) by not providing voters’ data to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The ECP on Wednesday announced that it would use electronic voting and biometric verification machines at some polling stations on trial basis in the NA-120 (Lahore) and PP-4 (Gujar Khan) where the by-polls are to be held on September 17.
The ECP right now has 150 biometric and 100 electronic voting machines for the trial run that will be used in the in NA-120 and PP-4.
According to the ECP, NADRA has been directed to provide voters’ list, thumb impressions and pictures of the voters. However, NADRA has failed to provide the data to the ECP despite repeated reminders and official letters in this regard.
The ECP once again directed NADRA – under Article 220 – to provide voters’ data by August 17 so that the electronic voting could be conducted in NA-120 and PP-4. Keeping in view this situation, ECP Secretary also held a meeting with NADRA chairman and apprised him about the issue.
The ECP secretary reminded the NADRA chairman that all federal and provincial departments are bound to cooperate with the ECP under the Article 220. Therefore, NADRA was, once again, directed to provide data till August 17.
In the meeting, the NADRA chairman was reminded that ECP’s programme to hold electronic voting during by-polls in Sindh a couple of months back could not materialise because the NADRA did not provide the required data.
NA-120 fell vacant after the ECP de-notified Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister when the Supreme Court, on July 28, disqualified Nawaz due to the Panama Leaks scandal.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has fielded Dr Yasmeen Rashid as its candidate against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Kulsoom Nawaz for the constituency. Captain (r) Safdar and Senator Asif Kirmani on Friday submitted the nomination papers for Kulsoom Nawaz.
Pakistan People’s Party’s Hafiz Mian Zubair Kardar, Advocate Ishtiaq Chaudhary of Pakistan Awami Tehreek and other independent candidates have also submitted their nomination papers. Din Muhammad, a former police constable, is also in the run as an independent candidate.
Meanwhile, ECP has sought legal opinion over an application filed by PTI, to remove the ban on MNAs to run electoral campaign for their respective candidates contesting NA-120 by-polls.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi submitted the application during his meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Sardar Muhammad Raza in Islamabad.
PTI’s application raised objections to sub-paragraphs (v) & (vi) of the ECP notification No. F.8(4)2013 dated August 1, 2017, which prohibits a MNA from visiting the constituency concerned, or the polling station.
In the application, Qureshi said, “The PML-N candidate has the ability to influence the election process in an unfair manner and obtain an undue advantage by highlighting the government’s ability to undertake development schemes and local projects. Therefore, the aforesaid matter requires to be monitored carefully.”
NA-120 has a total of 321,633 voters. Among them, 179,505 are male while 142,128 are female voters. ECP has already announced the polling scheme. There will be a total of 220 polling stations in the constituency. Of these 103 will be for male voters, 98 for female voters and 19 combined. Altogether 568 polling booths will be set up in those polling stations.