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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Omar Hamid Khan on Thursday said that he was not sure about using electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general election.

“It took India 20 years and Brazil 22 years to get themselves on the machines. It will also take us a while to get these machines up and running,” Khan said while briefing a meeting of the members of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice, chaired by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Riaz Fatyana.

The ECP secretary told the committee they cannot say anything with surety on whether the use of EVMs will be applicable in the next elections or not. EVMs would have to go through 14 steps before they can be used in the next general elections, he added.

“There are challenges in using the EVMs,” he said. “There will be 3 to 4 more pilot projects related to the use of EVMs," he maintained.

During the meeting, treasury lawmakers insisted on the use of the EVMs, while the opposition members supported the ECP’s concerns.

“How many electronic voting machines there will be at a polling station also remains to be figured out,” the ECP secretary said, adding that the state institution was also working to facilitate overseas Pakistanis.

The members raised the questions that how the EVM would be used in the areas where there was no internet service and how the people of Balochistan would use the EVM to cast their votes.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha while pointing out some flaws in the bill on EVM, said the bill introduced electronic voting without omitting the provison of manual voting which meant that at present the Elections Act allowed both electronic and manual voting in elections.

He said the proposed EVM lacked biometric verification facility and it would rely on manual verification.

The joint session of the parliament Wednesday passed two electoral reform bills that would allow the use of EVMs in general elections and enable overseas Pakistanis to vote using the I-voting system.

The ECP, in the past, has opposed the use of EVMs and submitted several objections.

Meanwhile, oppositions parties have rejected EVMs saying it would allow the ruling PTI to manipulate the 2023 elections.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that opposition would challenge the legislation in the Supreme Court. PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that government had failed to show its numbers at the joint session and the bills had not been rightfully enacted into laws.