Two weeks after the passage of bills related to electoral reforms from the joint sitting of the Parliament, the federal cabinet Tuesday viewed that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was bound to hold all the next elections, including by-polls, through the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). “The Federal Cabinet while discussing the most important decision on the EVM opined that after amendments to the election laws, it is mandatory for the Election Commission to hold all next by-polls through the EVMs,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said while talking to the media persons in Islamabad after the federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. “If the elections are not conducted through the EVMs, there is another opinion that the government will not be able to fund them,” he said, explaining the existing election laws that only gave legitimacy to the polls via the machines. He said Federal Minister for Law and Justice Dr. Muhammad Farogh Naseem was of the view that prima facie, the government could only give funds to the ECP for elections if that were held through EVMs. “The government had formed a committee in that regard and the law ministry would give its opinion on the matter,” Fawad added. The minister said the ECP should ensure use of the EVMs in all the next elections as the Parliament had given mandate in that regard. Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan and Minister for Planning Development & Special Initiatives Asad Umar briefed the federal cabinet on the new variant of the coronavirus (Omicron). Fawad said the federal cabinet had expressed serious reservations about the videos circulating on the social media networking sites showing that votes were being bought for the upcoming by-election in Lahore. He said such illegal activities would not have come to the fore in the by-election had steps been taken by the ECP against horse trading in the recent Senate election. “Free and fair polls are lifeline of a democratic system where elections are the basis for formation of government,’ he said, highlighting the national election watchdog’s effective and important role in that regard. He urged the ECP to take the matter of purchase of votes by specific political parties in Lahore to the logical conclusion. The minister said Rana Shamim had stated in the Islamabad High Court that the circulated affidavit was not issued by him. The question was that how affidavit was published in newspaper, he said, adding it seemed the newspaper, which reported on the notarised affidavit of ex-chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim, had obtained it from Nawaz Sharif, he added. He questioned how an affidavit safe in a locker in London could be published in Pakistan. He said some media persons were involved in the campaign launched against judiciary and army and hoped that the court would take the issue to the logical conclusion. To a question, the minister said the protest campaign of opposition was seasonal and indeed their own workers did not toe their line.