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Provinces ‘ignore’ Centre’s proposed amendments to LG laws

Provinces ‘ignore’ Centre’s proposed amendments to LG laws

ISLAMABAD: Provincial bodies seem to have snubbed the parliamentary panel’s proposal to amend the local government laws.

Federal minister and convener of a sub-committee of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, Zahid Hamid, told reporters after a board meeting here on Tuesday that the provinces have not yet responded to the proposed amendments despite repeated reminders.

He added that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has been asked to once again seek response from the provinces.

Mr Hamid said that progress has been made for the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs), biometric voters’ verification system and voting rights for overseas Pakistanis. He added that the ECP will soon invite tenders for EVMs which would be tested in by-polls.

An ECP official said that the electoral body has already accorded approval for a pilot project to test the EVMs but the process may take another six months or so. The technical and functional specifications of the around 300 to 400 EVMs to be procured for the pilot project has, however, been decided.

The official added that an execution plan for the pilot project has also been prepared and will be shared with a sub-committee of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms headed by Dr Arif Alvi on January 28, before seeking final approval from the ECP.

A participant of Tuesday’s meeting said the committee was informed that the ECP had put the EVM project on fast-track and was making continuous progress.

Though Mr Hamid did not divulge details of a breakthrough in the biometric voters’ verification system, a source told Dawn that some development has been made in a meeting between the minister of state for information technology, Anushe Rehman, and the chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2016

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