APP07-07 ISLAMABAD: December 07 - President Mamnoon Hussain addressing a ceremony to celebrate National Voters Day at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. APP

ISLAMABAD, Dec 7 (APP): President Mamnoon Hussain on Wednesday said the nation’s decision, once given through vote, must be whole-heartedly accepted and respected by all segments of society.

“The administration should ensure implementation of the ‘sacred verdict’ of the people with great sincerity and remove every obstacle in the way,” the President said at a ceremony to mark National Voters Day, organized by Election Commission of Pakistan here at the Aiwan-e-Sadar.

The President said whenever an opportunity arises, the people should exercise their right of vote without any inducement, coercion or negative thought and with the intention of furthering national objectives.

“We are well aware of the losses as a result of deviating from this principle and world’s history is full of such ugly examples,” he said.

President Mamnoon welcomed holding of National Voters Day on December 7, the anniversary of Pakistan’s first general election to highlight the importance, efficacy and sanctity of vote to strengthen the country’s democratic foundations.

He said in Islamic concept, vote is considered a sacred duty because the Quran and Sunnah guide about making decisions with consultation and handing over responsibility to those capable of it.

The President said the basis of independent, impartial and transparent elections in the country lied in the maturity of peoples’ consciousness, the first step of which was registering their names in the voter list with great responsibility.

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He expressed satisfaction that Election Commission of Pakistan had set up voter education committees at district level to ensure correct registration of votes and educate people about the importance of vote.

He proposed for the committees to also impart training on the correct use of vote in addition to their responsibility of ensuring accurate voters’ registration to make electoral system more effective.

He suggested Election Commission to develop a consensus code of conduct in consultation with all political parties in the country, which should enjoy the status of a national document.

President Mamnoon said an independent and self- sufficient Election Commission was important in holding free and transparent elections.

He said the priorities of the government in this regard were correct and expressed confidence that it would continue to fully cooperate with the Election Commission in future.

Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan in his speech highlighted various initiatives taken by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in order to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in future.

Justice Raza said Election Commission had established an independent Monitoring Wing for which the federal government had granted approval for creation of 141 new posts.

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He said on the recommendation of Inquiry Commission, the ECP not only established a permanent Federal Election Academy but also trained its officers to perform duties in befitting manner.

He mentioned that Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms were working on the improvement of existing electoral system and remove discrepancies in electoral system.

Justice Raza said the ECP had completed the process of verification of electoral rolls in October 2016, which were complete in all aspects and would be used for general elections.

Also, a tender has been floated to purchase 400 electronic voting machines to pilot test them in the bye- elections on experimental basis, he added.

Giving statistics, Secretary ECP Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad said 102.87 million CNICs had been issued by NADRA so far, while total registered voters were 97.01 million including 54.50 million male and 42.42 million female voters.

He said about 2.56 million people had CNICs but were not registered as voters, whereas 190,000 persons with disabilities would be made part of electoral process.

He said ECP’s five-year Strategic Plan contained 13 goals and 162 objectives, mainly aimed at providing better services to voters and encourage women to get registered as voters.