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NADRA chief's removal: Govt wants joint sitting of parliament: Nisar

09 December, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has dispatched a letter to the parliamentary leaders, proposing a joint session of parliament over the issues pertaining to sacking of NADRA chairman and verification of voters' thumb impressions.

In the letter, Chaudhry Nisar Ali has said that a debate is going on over thumb impressions on ballot papers. He said the use of magnetic ink could not be ensured in the May 11 general elections. Nisar said that linking changes in NADRA with the issue of thumb impressions in the general elections is not correct. He said provision of magnetic ink was the responsibility of the election commission and the interim government.

Nisar said that NADRA is not a "one-man authority", and that there are a number of competent, honest and determined people in the institution. "The government is ready to have verification of votes on all constituencies from any institution," he added. In his letter, the interior minister has said that in the recent days the issue of verification of thumb impression on ballot papers had been resonating in media, public debate, judicial hearings and even parliament.

He said the entire debate had initially revolved around the possibility of verification of ballots through a digital process applied by NADRA. However, it had been contended that the same might not be possible because the magnetic ink for thumb impression was not used in the general election 2013. The minister further wrote that after a routine administration change in NADRA recently, an impression had consciously been created as if the change was linked to the issue of verification of ballots "which is erroneous, mala fide and patently misleading".

"I am taking this opportunity to ask you to give your considered opinion for the future course in this regard in a manner which is not prejudicial to the sanctity of the entire electoral process or the democratic institutions which appears to be the sole purpose behind this entire debate," the minister wrote. Raising a set of questions over the debate, the minister said that in the middle of all this, he would like to reiterate that NADRA was not a one-man organisation.

"It comprises men and women of high calibre and honesty whose hard work and commitment have made NADRA the organisation it is today. Somebody's inclination or love for an individual should not be allowed to cloud this reality through a media trial and turn this very important issue into a political circus," he added. The minister requested for consideration of facts over the issue, saying "For God Almighty's sake let facts rather than prejudice speak out loud and clear".

Nisar referred to his speech on the subject before the National Assembly on December 5, in which he had categorically stated that "the present government was neither involved nor responsible for procurement of magnetic ink, essential for thumb verification and validation, which was actually responsibility of the election commission or the caretaker government of Mir Hazar Khan Khoso. He said that due to the reported non-use of magnetic ink on the ballot papers, digital verification and validation may not be possible and a large majority in each constituency will fail the verification process. He said that in spite of the above, the government has no objection to carrying out the verification process under the supervision of any institution or authority, not only in four or forty constituencies but in every single constituency for the general elections 2013.

"We are also prepared to hand over the supervision of this entire exercise to Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for absolute transparency." The interior minister also proposed other questions for the parliamentary heads of political parties. "In case a decision was taken to use magnetic ink for general election 2013 for the first time, who was responsible for its procurement and distribution in time for the day of elections at all the polling stations across the country."

End.

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