The Secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, announced on Saturday that the biometric verification machines and the electronic voting machines would not be used in the upcoming general elections in 2018.
A sample of the biometric verification machines was used in the recent NA-120 elections in Lahore, and the results were not satisfactory. Out of the entire voting population of the area, almost 12 percent of the votes could not be verified because the machines could not read several fingerprints. Keeping this glitch in mind, if the machines are used in the next general elections; out of the entire 100 million voting population, almost around 12 million voters would not be verified through the technology.
This is a huge loophole on ECP’s part and shows how Pakistan lags way behind in terms of technological advancements. This increases the chances of the next general elections being labeled as rigged, and that in itself is a huge dissatisfaction for the voters. The last four years have gone by in protests and political gatherings based on the non-acceptance of the ruling party’s rise to power and the rigging accusations. It is a major blow to the strategies of political parties who were relying on the revolution of the voting system. This sets the game right where it started from.
At the same time, the news is also going to be favorable to those who are used to the status quo and have mastered the ins and outs of the system, and rely very much on the biometric verification machines.
The lack of modernization in the political scene of Pakistan agitates the newly political populace; which is vocal and is ready to step out of their houses to cast a vote. While it is understandable that ECP’s sample did not quite produce the results and needs more time to deliver what is required, it also is a major realization of the fact that ECP had four years to deliver this product. The lack of commitment and planning always results in the delay of progression in Pakistan’s political setup.
If you look at the recent history, ECP as an institution has also failed to stand its ground and create accountability where necessary. Their failure to stop parties from arranging political gatherings around NA-120, and Muslim Milli League (MML) still contesting the elections despite ECP’s denial of registration; makes the absence of biometric verification in 2018 general elections pretty an expected tragedy.