HARIPUR: The Ministry of Information Technology has abandoned Pakistan Telephone Industries (TIP), claiming to be the pioneer in the development of electronic voting machines (EVM) in the country, from the list of potential suppliers, said from the springs to Dawn.
The government issued a presidential ordinance on Saturday authorizing and binding the Pakistan Election Commission to procure EVMs for future elections.
State-owned TIP Haripur introduced EVM to the country a decade ago, but surprisingly the IT ministry ignores it and is looking for new partners, the sources said.
They said the Ministry of Informatics, which is the parent ministry of TIP, had recently approached some manufacturers in the private and public sectors for the production of prototypes of the EVM for demonstration before the ECP.
The state-owned company claims to be the pioneer in the development of EVMs ten years ago
But, according to the sources, the TIP, which pitched the idea as a state-owned company, and had repeatedly protested in front of the ECP, Nadra and the IT ministry, was not approached. .
The sources said TIP’s EVM was declared the best and most effective after staging protests outside the ECP on December 31, 2013, and later before the National Assembly’s electoral reform committee.
According to the sources, the TIP’s EVM was used in a live environment during a by-election in 2012 in the constituency of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and its operation was found to meet the required standards.
“The ECP had also approved our EVM, which shows that the TIP product is the best,” said Javed Safdar, the former managing director of TIP. He said TIP was able to make cost-effective EVMs with the ability to handle 16 candidates, which can be scaled up to 128 at a time without hang-ups, viruses, and hackers.
“It consists of three units (control and verification, ballot and printing, and the verification is based on CNIC and biometrics, which means it can verify election rigging as efficiently as possible.”
Safdar said the government should build on the potential of TIP and fund its EVM project, which in turn would help create new jobs through the manufacture of such machines.
Tahir Atiq Siddiqi, former DGM finance TIP and then head of the EVM project, said the ECP asked TIP to plan the manufacture of 100 machines in 2013/14, but the fate of this order was not known at this stage. .
He said he had led a team that had given more than a dozen demonstrations to Nadra and ECP, where all stakeholders had called TIP’s product technically viable and cost effective.
When asked, he said that being 100% indigenous, TIP’s EVM costs between Rs 30,000 and Rs 34,000 per unit only.
Mr Siddiqi said TIP should be revived with the EVM project to help stop unemployment and discourage imports.
When contacted, Taimur Khan, co-secretary of the IT ministry with the added charge of being TIP’s managing director, said he was not fully briefed on the details of the EVM project, but according to Ministry files, TIP workforce and existing machinery were not able to meet the manufacturing requirements set for EVM.
When reminded of the information placed on the official TIP website regarding key features, he said he would verify the information.
Posted in Dawn on May 11, 2021