ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly's Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs on Tuesday recommended that holding of elections under the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) instead of the judiciary and electronic voting machines.

The meeting of the committee was held here at the Parliament House with its head Abdul Mannan in the chair.  Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmed told the committee that voting is being done through electronic voting machines in various countries. He said the ECP has started work on this technology and it will be able to conduct elections through this system after 2016. He said the matters regarding training of staff to use electronic machines are still to be decided.

The ECP secretary further said elections could not be held in the country through electronic voting under existing laws and legislation will be required in this regard. He said introduction of this system will reduce the chances of rigging and improve the turn out and counting system.

Abdul Mannan said the prime minister was committed for ensuring free and fair elections. He said a bill for electronic voting will soon be presented in the National Assembly.

The committee took note of not allowing women to cast their votes in some areas and recommended that candidates involved in barring women from voting should be banned.

The committee members observed that some returning officers asked inappropriate questions from the contesting candidates in the 2013 elections which caused embarrassment for them. The ECP secretary said this problem was resolved after the decision of the Lahore High Court.

The committee called a meeting of leaders of different parties for consultations on the biometric system of voting.  Nadra officials told the meeting that some defects in the biometric system surfaced when it was tried on experimental basis in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which have been removed now. The officials said a summary regarding cost of the machines and logistics has been sent to the ECP.  The issue of "35 punctures" in the general elections was also brought to the notice of the committee. However, Ishtiak said electoral complaints could be could be addressed within 60 days. He said the issue of 35 punctures was not brought before the ECP within 60 days of elections so the ECP could not take notice of this matter.