LAHORE - Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will give a demonstration of Electronic Polling Machines (EPMs) to political parties and other stake holders in federal capital on February 17 in an effort to utilise these machines in the next general elections, informs Akhtar Hussain Sabir, Election Commissioner Punjab. In an exclusive interview with TheNation on Wednesday, he told that locally made EPMs by the students of private universities and other organisations would be demonstrated on February 17 to the members of political parties and other stakeholders. When asked, whether the ECP would be in a position to launch these machines in the next general elections, he said that this could be ascertained only after EPMs demonstration. However, the ECP was planning to put these machines for test in any of the by-polls in the country to check the efficiency and acceptability of the EPMs especially in the rural centres. He said that the system of electronic polling machines took several years in making its place and acceptability in India, as the Indian election commission put the same system for balloting in various election constituencies with a special emphasis on the far-flung rural areas where the people face the dilemma of illiteracy and didnt open for new inventions. Akhtar told that putting these machines for balloting after their demonstration could also help them to assess the efficiency of the EPMs in harsh and dusty weather. He further told that importing the electronic polling machines were too expensive and could put a huge burden on the ECPs finances, while the local machines could prove cost effective and friendly to local environment. Sabir told this scribe that a study committee was formed sometime back regarding the electronic polling in Pakistan and in the result of the committee efforts, a Canadian company donated an EPM, which was sensitive and did not match our weather and local environments. While the Canadian company replaced the machine after making changes into it according to our needs for testing purposes. Meanwhile, sources in the ECP told that CEC of Pakistan and Secretary EC during their visit to India would specially observe the electronic polling system of India in order to get some understanding for the application of these machines in the field, as the Indian EPMs were also locally manufactured. When contacted, Secretary Election Commission Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan, while confirming the information of this scribe, said that he along with CEC were proceeding for India on Wednesday where they give special emphasis on the Indian electronic polling system besides attending the conferences hosted by Cambridge Conference of Election Commissioners from South Asia and Indian Election Commission starting from January 21 and concludes on January 25. He also told that a special team of the ECP would be following them in a day or two to observe the electronic polling system of India.