Electoral rolls won't be put on Internet over threats
20 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was surprised when it was told on Tuesday that in view of NADRA and intelligent agencies' warnings, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had decided not to put the electoral lists on the Internet.
ECP Director General (Elections) Sher Afgan, on the query from the bench whether the electoral list has been put on the Internet, explained that the agencies and NADRA have recommended against putting the voters' data on the Internet. He also revealed that only in Saudi Arabia 500 polling stations have been set up to enable Pakistanis there to exercise their right to vote. Afgan also said that if the commission puts voters' data on the Internet the website might be hacked and the information could be stolen.
The court, however, rejected the ECP's concern and asked why had it not taken measures to prevent hacking. Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir and ECP representative reiterated before the three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, that it is not possible to allow overseas Pakistan to exercise right to vote in the upcoming elections because legislation and e-voting is required for the purpose.
The AG told the bench that he had held a meeting with IT experts and the representatives of the election commission at his office. He said that according to Muhammad Amir Malik from the IT Ministry the objective of ensuring right of vote to overseas Pakistanis could be achieved, but it would not be possible in the coming general elections. He also said legislation would be required in this regard and added that e-voting system was not perfect, as questions regarding the fairness of this system were being raised in different countries, like Finland, Germany, Ireland and India.
The court gave seven days to the ECP to develop a practicable mechanism so that over four million overseas Pakistanis could exercise their right of enfranchise in the upcoming general polls. The chief justice said, for the time being, they were not in favour of setting up polling stations in all the cities abroad for overseas Pakistani voters, but the ECP could set polling stations in Embassies.