Expressing its failure to extend the voting facility to overseas Pakistanis, the interim government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that multiple technical problems hampered efforts to deploy an e-voting mechanism. Interim Minister for Information Technology Dr Sania Nishtar informed the three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by the Chief Justice, that the government was facing several difficulties in deploying an e-voting system for overseas Pakistanis in the May 11 elections and they wanted to seek the court’s guidance regarding this matter. She explained that though National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) had successfully developed software for the e-voting, it would take at least 18 months to test the system and make it error-free.
The interim IT minister cited ‘diplomatic differences’ as another obstacle. She added that the Foreign Office had sought assistance from nine Gulf countries but only two had responded. She said now that the election commission was also short of time it would make things worse.
Nishtar also voiced her reservations for the voting day arrangements. “If the embassies are unable to handle situation on the polling day (May 11) then overseas citizens might stage protest, which would be an embarrassment for the Pakistani missions in other countries”. The minister said that Pakistan would also have to face severe criticism if there was lack of transparency.