ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has said that it is ready to hold local bodies’ elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa before June 30 without the biometric system.
Apparently admitting its failure to introduce biometric system for the upcoming local government (LG) elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked the provincial government to submit it a formal application for the conduct of the LG polls. The KP government is required to submit the said application with the poll authority not later than the coming Friday. During a top-level meeting at the ECP on Tuesday with Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Nasirul Mulk in chair, the ECP observed that holding the LG elections in KP using the biometric system was not a “feasible” option, considering the “time factor”. According to the ECP, the conduct of LG polls using this technique requires at least five to six months, whereas the LG polls could be held within two months using the existing conventional electoral method that involves manual voting.
The ECP’s fresh stance on biometric system appears to be in plain contradiction to its previous contention to this effect. In the recent past, the commission had been stating that the biometric system was too costly to be implemented and it was workable only in a “pollution-free environment”, unlike that in Pakistan. “It would be very difficult to ensure the early conduct of the LG polls in KP based on the biometric system. It would require at least five months, and it may take more time – up to six months. On the other hand, conducting the LG polls through existing voting methods is a feasible option. We can hold the LG polls in the province in 45 days to two months using the existing voting arrangement,” ECP Additional Secretary Syed Sher Afgan told journalists on Tuesday.
“A decision has therefore been taken to hold the LG polls in the KP without the biometric system,” he said. It merits recalling here tat the ECP’s notable reluctance to use biometric system in the provincial LG polls has been severely criticised by the KP government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on several occasions. In a conversation with this scribe some days back, PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari took on the ECP on this count. “The ECP had assured PTI in its meeting with the PTI leadership that they would try to hold biometric voting at least in one district as a pilot project. Also the ECP has consistently stated that is completely prepared to hold LG elections in the province by April 30, so why is the ECP not ready when it has always known that LG elections were to take place under SC decision for holding the same?” she asked.
The Supreme Court has ordered the Federal Government to conduct legislation to empower the ECP carryout delimitation of constituencies for LG polls, instead of provinces. Recently, the advocate general KP moved the SC to confirm if the fresh delimitations in the KP were needed for the LG polls, in the light of the related SC ruling. After reviewing the matter, the SC has allowed the LG polls conduct in KP on the constituencies’ delimitations done by the KP Government.
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