With the use of electronic and biometric voting machines dismissed by the apex electoral body ahead of last year’s general elections on account of ‘technical difficulties’, another private company has sought to reignite the debate by introducing its prototype. The new electronic voting machine (EVM), developed by ElectronBallot, was unveiled in the federal capital on Monday. Rizwan Kamran, the chief executive officer of the company, introduced the machine as an alternative to conventional voting (paper ballot). He claimed that the machine can deliver final, verified and official results on the night of an election. Moreover, he said that the machine was capable of delivering results to a centralised location. “Digital elections do not mean they are safe,” he warned, adding that they could employ mathematical tools to make the electronic voting process more transparent.
The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) on Sunday has foiled 12,000 hacking attacks on the internet voting website that was made to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis to exercise their voting right. According to details, hackers attempted almost 1200 times to harm the website however, NADRA successfully counter the attack and kept the website operational. More than 5,000 overseas Pakistani voters have cast their vote through Internet voting system. Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has granted permission to all registered overseas Pakistanis voters to have the right of casting vote in bye-election through I-voting system.
The campaign to register overseas Pakistanis for internet-voting in the upcoming by-polls evoked a lukewarm response, with only 7,419 expatriates out of the total 632,000 registering to avail the facility offered to them for the first time in the country’s electoral history. The process of registration of overseas Pakistanis from the 37 constituencies where by-elections are to be held on Oct 14 had started on Sept 1 and came to a close on Monday at 9am. According to a statement released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the website for the overseas voters remained functional 24/7 throughout the registration process and did not face any technical problems.
A lack of interest of Pakistanis living aboard flagrantly evident as deadline for registration of Internet voting has been ended today. Out of above five hundred thousand Pakistanis residing overseas, only seven thousand and four hundred registered themselves for internet voting which is not an encouraging trend for the present PTI led government which worked hard to give the expats the right to vote. Five hundred and twenty thousand overseas Pakistanis showed an unexpected and strange attitude towards the lack of interest in the electoral and political system of Pakistan. Only seven thousand and four hundred Pakistanis living and settled in foreign countries – being registered to the internet voting for the by elections scheduled to be held in October 2018 – can take part in the voting process now. According to the election commission sources, two hundred thousand individuals have visited the internet voting website.
As the deadline extended by the Election Commission of Pakistan for overseas Pakistanis to register as voters for I-voting in the upcoming by-election scheduled for October 14 expires today (Monday), only 6,319 expatriates have registered as voters in 37 constituencies. A day earlier, the ECP extended the deadline for registration of overseas Pakistanis till 9 am on Monday to register as many voters as possible. The commission had asked the overseas Pakistanis to take advantage of the extended time and ensure their registration so that they could vote in the upcoming by-election.
The overseas Pakistanis have so far shown little interest in getting themselves registered for first-ever I-voting in the upcoming by-election in 37 constituencies and so far just 6,000 have got themselves registered for their voting right. Sources in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said there are estimated 0.520 million expats, who could exercise their voting right with regard to these constituencies. But hitherto, just 3,000 qualified for this and were ready to vote in by-election. “These qualified persons will be using their respective passwords to take part in voting,” they explained.
Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani has alleged that the internet-voting system is being introduced in the country to rig and manipulate elections. “The i-voting system being put into place is flawed from its inception and has the ingredients of becoming a tool in the hands of forces that may want to manipulate elections in Pakistan,” warned the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader. Talking to Dawn here on Wednesday, Mr Rabbani called for a thorough discussion on the issue in parliament before introducing the system. The former senator recalled that the task force set up by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) itself had already expressed reservations over the move to allow overseas Pakistanis to use their right of vote through internet.
As the process of by-elections on vacant seats of National and Provincial Assemblies will start from Tuesday (tomorrow), the Election Commission of Pakistan remains jittery over use of internet voting (I-voting) for overseas Pakistanis because of technical complications. The ECP spokesperson said that I-voting facility would be extended to overseas Pakistanis in coming by-elections in compliance with the Supreme Court orders. The spokesperson said that the court had ordered the ECP to go for I-voting in the coming by-elections, even though the ECP had planned a pilot project that would not impact the actual poll results.
The Internet Voting Task Force (IVTF) on Overseas Pakistanis’ Voting Rights has said that internet voting was likely to be attacked by foreign governments and intelligence agencies. In a report, the IVTF said the applications such as internet banking and e-commerce were typically targeted by insiders, hackers or in organised gangs, whereas an internet voting system used in binding political election results was far more likely to be attacked by foreign governments and intelligence agencies. It stated that foreign government agencies posed an entirely different class of threat as compared to standard hackers adding these organizations typically had unsurpassed resources and capabilities at their disposal. “We have the example of Skynet, a US NSA operation, specifically deployed in Pakistan.
Pakistan: Election Commission’s task force highlights flaws in proposed e-voting mechanism for overseas Pakistanis | Dawn
A task force set up by the Election Commission of Pakistan on the directives of the Supreme Court (SC), to test the viability of implementing an online voting mechanism for overseas citizens, has recommended against implementing the e-voting system, DawnNews TV reported. The Internet Voting Task Force (IVTF) was formed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in April on the SC’s orders, to conduct a technical audit of the Internet voting solution process that was proposed by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra). In a report submitted before the top court on Tuesday, the IVTF said that while overseas Pakistanis have the right to vote in the elections, the e-voting platform that Nadra had proposed to use for the purpose, iVote, has drawbacks that pose risks to the conduct of transparent voting.
The task force on voting rights of overseas Pakistanis in its report pointed out various shortcomings in the proposed system of internet-based voting, reducing the chances of its use in the near future. The report of the task force, constituted in April this year, was made public on Monday. It said online voting systems, even in the developed world, catered to relatively small number of voters – a mere 70,090 online votes were cast in the Norwegian elections in 2013, 176,491 in the 2015 elections in Estonia, and around 280,000 votes in the state election in New South Wales, Australia. It also said that leading international cybersecurity professionals have repeatedly voiced serious concerns regarding the security of internet voting.
“Researchers discovered vulnerabilities and launched devastating attacks on such systems (including those deployed in the US, Estonia, and Australia) that impacted tens of thousands of votes,” the report pointed out. Such demonstrations have played a determining role in discouraging deployment of internet voting in several developed countries.
Pakistan: Election Commission criticised for ‘imposing media curbs, failing to conduct fair elections’ | The News
Representatives of political parties, legal fraternity and journalists on Monday bitterly criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan for what they termed its failure to conduct transparent and fair general elections, provide a level playing field to political parties and their candidates, and imposing restrictions on media coverage. Addressing a seminar titled “What Journalists Saw in General Elections 2018” at the Karachi Press Club on Monday, speakers called for reforms in election laws by removing all defects in the election procedures and for steps to be taken to ensure that the media is not restricted from covering the polls in future. The seminar was organised by the Karachi Union of Journalists-Dustoor group. Stating that the ECP failed to conduct fair elections, Pakistan Peoples Party Karachi President Saeed Ghani said that political parties were not provided a level playing field before and on the polling day. He said polling agents were not provided Form-45 after the counting process in sheer violation of the election laws.
About 1.67 million votes were excluded from the count in Pakistan’s July 25 general election, surpassing the number of ballots rejected in 2013 polls, according to a report by an independent poll watchdog. Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) is a coalition of 30 domestic non-governmental organizations that observe general election and mobilize voters. According to the FAFEN report, the increase in the number of discarded ballots was a ubiquitous phenomenon observed in Pakistan’s all four provinces and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). Overall, the increase was recorded at around 11.7 per cent. There were more than 100 million registered voters in Pakistan but out of them, only about 51 per cent exercised their franchise, according to the Election Commission.
Electing a successor to Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain could be delayed up to September as the electoral college, which has to choose the next head of state, is yet to be constituted after the July 25 general elections, according to media reports. President Hussain’s five-year term is set to expire on September 9. According to the Constitution, the presidential election must be held at least a month prior to the expiry of the incumbent’s term, which in this case would be August 8, DawnNewsTV reported. With just over a month to go until the expiry of the President’s tenure, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) expects the next presidential election to face delays, it quoted a source from the poll body as saying.
Britain on Friday said it shared concern expressed by international observer missions over reports of pressure on the media in Pakistan and the number of parties with links to proscribed groups who preach violence and intolerance during the Wednesday elections in the country. Noting that Jinnah’s vision of a tolerant, pluralist Pakistan remained central to a stable and cohesive Pakistani society, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said the election marked an “unprecedented second successive transfer of power from one full-term civilian government to another”.
Pakistan’s general election has been plunged into chaos after the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) said it would reject the result amid widespread allegations that the military was rigging the ballot in favour of the party led by the former cricketer Imran Khan. With only a third of the vote counted by 3am – an hour after the result was officially due – Khan’s Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led in 110 seats, with the PMLN trailing on 68. Results continued to trickle in slowly on Thursday, hours after Khan’s supporters took to the streets to celebrate victory.
A suicide bomber struck outside a crowded polling station in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta, killing 31 people as Pakistanis cast ballots Wednesday in a general election meant to lead to the nation’s third consecutive civilian government. The attack in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, also wounded 35 people and several were reported to be in critical condition, raising concerns the death toll could rise further, according to hospital official Jaffar Kakar, a doctor. A witness who was waiting to cast his ballot, Abdul Haleem, said he saw a motorcycle drive into the crowd of voters just seconds before the explosion. Haleem’s uncle was killed in the explosion.
Pakistan’s election authorities have granted broad judicial powers to the powerful military at polling stations during next week’s general election, a rare move that has fanned concern among political parties and human rights groups. The July 25 election is seen as a two-way race between parties led by former cricket star Imran Khan and now-jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has accused the army of working behind the scenes to favor Khan, which it denies. About 371,000 troops will spread out across Pakistan to guard the election, about three times the number during the last election in 2013. In a notice this month, the Election Commission gave soldiers the authority of a “magistrate”, to hold on-the-spot trials of anyone breaking election laws and sentence them.
Accusations of military interference, encroaching extremism and a series of deadly attacks have cast an alarming shadow over Pakistan’s hopes for a rare democratic transition of power in next week’s election. Observers have slammed “blatant” attempts to manipulate the ballot, which will see the brother of a recently jailed three-time prime minister face off against a former World Cup-winning cricketer for leadership of the nuclear-armed nation, whose short history is peppered by coups and assassinations. A series of deadly attacks in mid-July has further darkened the mood, denting optimism over hard-won security for the country of 207 million.
Overseas Pakistanis will not be able to vote in the forthcoming general election in the country, officials of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) said Wednesday. NADRA officials told Geo News that Pakistan nationals abroad were being misled through various campaigns on social networking platforms. They said no decision had yet been made with regard to online voting facility for overseas Pakistanis. “Online voting for overseas Pakistanis can be experimented in by-polls,” the officials said. “Pakistanis abroad will have to come to the country for using their right to vote in the general election.”
Pakistan observed a day of mourning for the dozens of people killed and injured during a series of terror attacks targeting political rallies as the country gears up for the July 25 national elections. Officials on July 15 said that more than 160 people were killed, including political candidates, and at least 230 wounded in three separate election-related bombings over the past week in and around the cities of Peshawar, Mastung, and Bannu. The attacks only served to ratchet up political tensions in the country ahead of the upcoming vote. Adding to the strains was the arrest of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned from London to face corruption charges. Officials said the deadliest of three attacks came on July 13, when at least 140 were killed by a suicide bomber at a political rally in the Mastung district of Balochistan Province.
A week of bombings on political rallies has shattered the relative peace of Pakistan’s general election campaign, culminating in a devastating suicide attack that killed at least 130 people at a rally in the southwestern Baluchistan province. As campaigning intensifies, attacks in different areas of the country have stoked fear of more violence in the Muslim country of 208 million where political rallies can draw tens of thousands of people. The July 25 election features dozens of parties, with two main contenders: ex-cricket hero Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehree-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which vows to win a second term despite the jailing of founder, ex-Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif, on a corruption conviction.
One hundred years ago, women in the United Kingdom gained the right to vote, and today, most women in the developed world are enfranchised. But in many developing countries, the resistance that British suffragettes faced a century ago, rooted in misogyny, persists. This is certainly true in Pakistan, where the general election set for July 25, provides an ideal opportunity to advocate for change. At first glance, Pakistan seems progressive. The law has permitted women to vote since 1956, almost a decade after independence from Britain. Since then, the number of women in parliament has steadily increased, aided by a 33 per cent quota and rules dictating how many women must be included on party lists.
Pakistan: At least 21 dead in huge bombing targeting politicians who dared to stand up to Taliban | The Independent
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed it was behind a suicide bombing at a rally that killed a secular politician and 20 others two weeks before nationwide elections. Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the militant group, said they targeted the Awami National Party rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing Haroon Ahmed Bilour, a candidate for a seat in the provincial legislature. Another 65 people were wounded. Islamic extremists grew to despise the ANP when it ruled the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, from 2008 to 2013.
Pakistan’s military said it would deploy more than 370,000 troops to guard the general election later this month, but said it was not meddling in the democratic process. Major General Asif Ghafoor told a news conference that more than three times as many troops would be deployed than in the 2013 elections, and they would be stationed inside and outside polling stations. Campaigning has so far been dominated by allegations the military has run a multi-pronged campaign to undermine the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party of ousted former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and muzzled the media. Sharif, who last week was sentenced to 10 years for corruption offences, says the army is trying tip the balance in favour of Imran Khan’s PTI party.
Caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, National Heritage and Energy Syed Ali Zafar on Sunday said the accountability court decision against former prime minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz would not affect holding of the general election on time. There was no provision in the Constitution regarding postponement of the election, which would be held on July 25, 2018 as per schedule, he said during ‘Meet the Press Programme’ here at Lahore Press Club. Answering a question, the minister said they [Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz] would be arrested on their return to Pakistan, if they were not provided any relief by the court. It was a responsibility of everyone to obey the court orders, he added.
Uncertainty, doubts, and skepticism are on the rise as Pakistan inches toward its July 25 parliamentary elections, the most controversial in the country’s democratic history thanks to recurring direct and indirect interference by the powerful military. There exists both hope and despair – hope of a third transfer of power from one elected government to another and despair because of the increasing role of the proverbial “invisible hand” that some observers and political analysts label as the “creeping coup.” Unlike the past, where the military used to pack elected governments through direct interference or pick and choose by acting behind the scenes, this time it is the top judiciary and the accountability department — the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) — standing in the front row and believed to be targeting some, while sparing others.
Pakistan’s former prime minister and a member of his cabinet have been controversially barred from contesting next month’s general election. It is the latest in a series of blows to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party that have fuelled accusations the country’s military is trying to deny the party a second term. On Thursday, the supreme court found the former privatisation minister Daniyal Aziz guilty of contempt, disqualifying him from parliament for five years.
When Pakistan’s military spokesman held a press conference earlier this month on emerging threats, Matiullah Jan, a journalist who has written critically of the judiciary and the military, was surprised to see his own picture flash on the screen. The spokesman, Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said Jan and a handful of other journalists and bloggers were anti-state and anti-military. Those are serious allegations in Pakistan, where the military has ruled, directly or indirectly, for most of the country’s history, and where rights groups say it is waging an unprecedented campaign of intimidation ahead of next month’s elections. “He wasn’t specific,” Jan said of the press conference. “But he tried to paint everyone on the so-called slide prepared by intelligence reports with a broad brush as being anti-state and anti-army.
In most countries, politicians who warned that aliens were trying to influence an upcoming general election would likely find themselves ridiculed by the media and shunned at the ballot box. In Pakistan, where cryptic references to “invisible hands” wielded by “the boys” have long been part of the political lexicon, such talk is a staple of the campaign trail. Ahead of the July 25 vote, ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has cautioned that “aliens” (Pakistan’s military) will attempt to prevent his party from winning another five-year term. Others whisper about the role the country’s feared “angels” (intelligence services) might play. The colorful terminology is partly a reflection of Pakistan’s rich linguistic heritage, peppered with English terms such as “blue-eyed boy” (one favored by those in power) and “red lines” (forbidden subjects).