ISLAMABAD - The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government seems to be losing interest in holding local bodies (LB) election, as so far it has neither made legislation ahead of introducing biometric machines nor floated international tenders for purchasing the required machinery to be used in the polling process.
Well-informed official sources in Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and KP government told The Nation on Wednesday that Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI)-led provincial government was yet to make amendment in LG Act KP to give legal cover to the use of biometric machines in polling process.
Moreover, the sources said, it will take four to six months in floating tenders for purchasing the machinery and then feeding voters’ data into the biometric machines with the help of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), adding the provincial government had not taken any step for the initial preparations.
The ECP on the other hand is surprised over the inordinate delay of KP government for not moving an inch on the legal and technical formalities required for LB polls although the PTI is hell bent on conducting elections only through biometric system.
“The PTI wants use of biometric machines in only one tehsil of KP - Ghazi tehsil in Haripur district - as pilot project. Why not in whole KPK? And if they want to introduce the thump verification system in only one area then why the provincial government is so late so far?” a source asked.
A meeting held in ECP on April 29, that was attended by chief secretary KP, Nadra representatives and election authorities, had ended up with a note that KP government would introduce biometric machines in Ghazi tehsil only, allowing the ECP to conduct elections in rest of the province through conventional method.
A source privy to the meeting said that KP government was supposed to make legislation through its provincial assembly as well as floating tenders for importing biometric machinery, however, so far the PTI-led government has not finalised anything.
The election experts are of the view that internationally, the biometric machines had an error chance of 5 to 10 per cent while the electronic voting machines (EVMs) extensively used in several countries, including India, had minimum error chances.
The PTI government in KP is also required to make legislation in case the biometric machines cannot verify thump impression of any registered voter and currently, the polling staff has no authority to deal with such situations as Nadra has already identified over 1.52 million voters in KP whose thumb impressions cannot be verified.
The ECP and Nadra have also conveyed it to KP government that the biometric machines cannot verify thumbs coloured with Mehndi or infected with skin diseases for which the KP government has to legislate and give special powers to polling staff, which it has not done yet.
While Sindh and Punjab governments have been given six months time to make legislation before holding LB polls in the provinces but they have not moved an inch in this regard. The KP government seems to be joining the other two provinces by sleeping over the required amendments.
“I think no province is sincere to introduce LB polls. I thought PTI will be the first to empower people at grassroots level but the excuses and inordinate delay on part of KP government indicate that it too is not serious,” an official in KP government remarked.