ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday announced the completion of Final Electoral Rolls (FERs), containing over 84 million voters, with the voter numbers to be increased and modifications to be made accordingly, till the announcement of next general polls.
According to the ECP, the total number of voters registered in the FERs is 84,365,051 including 47,773,692 male and 36,591,359 female voters. The detailed break-up is as under: Number of total voters in Punjab 48,308,644, Sindh 18,432,877, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 12,064,597, Balochistan 3,278,164, FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) 1,675,967 and Islamabad Capital Territory 604,802.
The respective number of males and female voters in each provinces: Punjab 27,297,361 (male) and 21,011,283 (female), Sindh 10,214,460 (male) and 8,218,417 (female), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 6,929,105 (male) and 5,135,492 (female), Balochistan 1,886,235 (male) and 1,391,929 (female), FATA 1,120,736 (male) and 55,523 (female) and Islamabad 325,795 (male) 279,007 (female). “Vigilance is the price of liberty,” the newly-appointed Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim commented on the ‘strict’ monitoring of electoral rolls preparation drive by media and civil society.
“I can see through, a change is coming for good,” he said, showering all out praise on the ECP for taking, what he termed, ‘first step towards free and fair elections’. “Let us all decide us all decide next polls are free and fair,” he added.
Ebrahim said the number of new entrants in the voter lists would keep increasing with the respective inclusion of newly-turned 18-year olds. He said the necessary modifications in the voter lists for the removal of anomalies with required additions and deletions in the voters data would be made till next general polls schedule arrived.
“I’m not saying that these voter lists are flawless. They require all the necessary modifications for the removal of dubious entries, erroneous data, factual inaccuracies and related anomalies which would conveniently be done through centrally computerised voters’ record with the help of Nadra. But the first gigantic step towards free and fair polls is taken,” the CEC said.
According to him, the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC), as decided earlier, would be mandatory for every voter to cast vote. Some 7.7 million people have availed the Nadra voter verification service through SMS (Short Messaging Service), Ebrahim claimed.
The CEC ‘cautioned’ the political parties to give their input on pending electoral issues as delimitation of constituencies and other relevant matters now and ‘not to complain later.
“The political parties should not complain later. It’s time they should step ahead and assist us towards devising a durable, transparent, just and well thought out electoral process. We’ve decided to go about it the way no one can point fingers at.”
With the completion of FERs, the ECP, although, looks to have taken a major step towards ensuring a transparent and modernised electoral process, the commission’s ability to form a flawless electoral system may greatly be undermined in case it fails to achieve two crucial targets: The delimitation of constituencies and introduction of Electronic Voter Machines (EVMs). While no progress has been made to mark new delimitations in the existing constituencies, which are demarcated out of political and vested interests, there appears a likelihood that the existing constituencies would not be delimited that may thus compromise credibility of electoral process. In addition, despite ECP’s claims, it has yet not taken any steps to practically introduce EVM’s. No consolidated pilot project to this effect has since been initiated-that points to another bog loophole in the ECP’s free and fair electoral drive.