Biometric system to take six months
ISLAMABAD: With Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government seeking local bodies polls by November 15, top officials of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday gathered to discuss whether the commission could hold polls in the province in a short time.
Official sources told The Nation that the meeting that was attended by members of ECP and provincial chief election commissioner KP decided that the PTI-led provincial government had not intimidated about the rules of procedures to be followed by ECP during the polls.
With the KP government insisting to introduce biometric system for identification of voters in LB polls, the ECP officials argued that the launching of biometric system would require at least six months to complete.
The meeting also decided to consult National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) on Wednesday whether it would be able to purchase biometric machines and then feed voters’ data accordingly by November 15.
The sources said that ECP would print over 100 million ballot papers in seven different colours to conduct local bodies’ polls in KP for which printing corporation of Pakistan would need two months to complete the printing exercise and then transport the ballot papers to each town across the province.
On Friday the provincial government through Secretary Local Government had informed the ECP through a letter that the KP government was ready to hold LB polls in the province asking the commission to conduct elections in the province.
But according to ECP, the exercise of conducting local government polls was much painstaking than holding general elections as in the former the ECP has to print seven ballot papers in different colours unlike the printing papers in general elections.
“Even Nadra would need two months to feed voters data into the biometric machines. We can’t hold polls the way Imran Khan wants,” an ECP official privy to the meeting informed.
He said that ECP after consultation with Nadra would squarely refuse to hold LB polls in KP citing dearth of time and would suggest that the commission could hold the exercise in March next year.
The official argued that there was no mechanism to settle litigation cases in case a voter finds flaw in the biometric machines. “What if biometric machines fail to identify the genuine voter in certain constituency? How will we resolve the litigation? These are things to be settled before introducing the system,” he added.
In a separate development, the ECP has written a letter to PM Secretariat for suggesting three BPS-22 officers for appointment of Secretary ECP as the incumbent Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan would retire on November 4.
With ECP running without a permanent Chief Election Commissioner, the post of commission’s secretary would become vacant on November 4 as according to sources, majority of BPS-22 officers were not interested in working as secretary ECP.
The sources, however, said the Establishment Division would depute BPS-21 officers giving the incentives of upgrading them one scale up after their transfer to ECP.