Ministry says source code and construction design could be stolen
The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) has refused to share key details about the electronic voting machines (EVMs) with the election commission of Pakistan (ECP). The ministry says it cannot immediately provide the source code and construction design of the EVMs to the ECP for fear of piracy.
The software and hardware information could be provided only after an agreement with the manufacturers, the ministry has said responding to a request by the ECP.
The development comes amid a struggle between the ECP and the government over the use of EVMs in the upcoming general elections of 2023. The government and the ECP have accused each other of machination over the issue.
In a related development, the Supreme Court has demised a petition against the chief election commissioner while a petition has been filed in Islamabad High Court to stop the government from attempts to influence the ECP.
The ECP had asked the federal ministry to provide the source code and the construction designs of the EVMs the government is so eager to introduce. However, the ministry said it could neither share the source code and construction design nor other software and hardware information.
It said the source code and construction design could be stolen, SAMAA TV reported.
Science Minister Shibli Faraz said the ministry has not refused to share the information but technical details could be provided only after an agreement with the manufacturers.
He said the government had communicated its explanation to the ECP, not a refusal.
The government is yet to fulfil its promise of presenting the EVMs for an examination by international observers, SAMAA TV said.
The government plans to use EVMs in the next general election, but the ECP has raised at least 37 objections against their use.
The government ministers, in response, launched diatribes against the chief election commissioner with Railways Minister Azam Swati accusing him of accepting bribes from the opposition and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry calling him an opposition “mouthpiece.”
The election commission reacted by convening its meeting and serving notices to Chaudhry and Swati.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition against the appointment of the chief election commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.
The two-member bench headed by Justice Umer Ata Bandial ruled that a constitutional amendment could not be challenged in the Supreme Court. The court upheld objections raised by the registrar Supreme Court.
The judges, however, praised the petitioner saying that the young lawyer had raised a constitutional point.
Justice Bandial said the petitioner claimed that a retired bureaucrat could not be appointed chief election commissioner (CEC) and that the CEC must be appointed after consolation with the chief justice. However, the petitioner should have read the ruling on the appointment of Chairman NAB, but CEC and chairman NAB were not judicial officers.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court has reserved a ruling on the admissibility of a petition about the use of EVMs in the next general election.
Justice Athar Minallah observed whether the petition was premature as the EVM use was still being debated.
The petitioner, Asadullah Advocate, said the government wanted to influence the ECP by subjecting it to undue criticism.