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ECP shies away from taking over Nadra Verification of thumb impressions

20 December, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday showed its inability to exercise powers the government wanted to entrust to it for verification of thumb impressions of voters.

The ECP deliberated upon the letter sent by the Ministry of Interior that it intended to entrust all the functions and powers of Nadra to it for carrying out thumb impression verification of voters.

After the meeting, the ECP Secretary, Ishtiak Ahmad Khan, wrote to the ministry, expressing the commission's inability to undertake the exercise. He referred to the meeting which noted that the Constitution and the law did not provide for the ECP to issue directions or order for the verification of voters' thumb impressions.

The forum, he noted, observed that the commission could not issue directions also for the fact the electoral activity was conducted by itself.The commission, he said, also observed that the verification of thumb impressions by Nadra through its optical scanning system was a kind of forensic analysis and the report produced by it would be considered as forensic evidence and examined by the election tribunal that had ordered for such verification and the ECP was not supposed to become a party in such matters for obvious reasons.

At a recent news conference, Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan had announced that the administrative control of the Nadra was being given to the ECP for three months so that it could conduct the election-related verification of voters' thumb impressions.

A senior ECP official, a day earlier, already informally questioned the logic behind putting Nadra under the ECP.Referring to the interior minister's statement, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had also maintained thumb impressions verification was not the ECP responsibility and that the election tribunals could issue direction for such an exercise.

Imran led a strong demand for carrying out verification of voters' thumb impressions to see whether or not the electoral exercise was rigged. The PTI leader made it clear that his party had accepted the general election results but not the massive rigging during the exercise.

The issue of rigging in elections was raised on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, when Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan also raised his voice and sought a probe into electoral results in NA-139.

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