The Election Commission of Pakistan and the government appeared to be poles apart in the Supreme Court on Tuesday on the issue of extending the facility of electronic voting to Pakistanis living abroad. While the court wishes to see the facility extended to overseas Pakistanis to enable them to cast their votes in the coming elections, the ECP insists that the electronic voting is not a feasible option at the moment. Although the Ministry of Information Technology says the task is achievable with the help of sophisticated software, it agrees that it is not feasible in the coming elections. During the hearing of a case relating to the grant of voting rights to Pakistanis living abroad, Director General of Elections Sher Afgan said a meeting held in the ECP on Monday had concluded that in the absence of a proper legislation the facility could not be extended at the moment. But he added that a team had been set up under him to develop a mechanism and procedures.
The meeting praised the apex court for providing guidelines and support and said the commission could not think of disobeying the court.
Mr Afgan said sensitive information, including complete particulars of womenfolk, was available with the ECP. “Intelligence agencies and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) fear that with just one click of a button the entire data can be stolen or hacked,” he said, adding that 3.5 million of the 4.5m overseas Pakistanis were registered voters and also held National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP). About 3.1 million of them are registered with Nadra with their permanent and temporary home addresses in Pakistan and 5,694 with addresses outside the country.