The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seems to be lost in the endless fog of its own inadequacy. The body – charged with holding free and fair elections – is systematically undermining the very tools that are necessary to insure transparency, and what is more perverse, in the name of transparency.

By banning polling agents and voters from carrying phones into the polling station the ECP has deprived this election from the most powerful means of accountability; an individual armed with handy phone camera.

The world over, the advent of high quality phone cameras and high speed internet created a dream of mass produced accountability; a force of citizen journalists that can capture events and publish them at will. This almost democratic system has yielded undeniable dividends. Remote lands beyond the reach of media vans have been documented, secret conversations have been exposed and countless cruelties caught on camera. It is this device which captured the iconic image of army members distributing cash to religious protestors in Islamabad; it is this device that documented Jibran Nasir being whisked away by a judge’s security protocol.

Has the ECP forgotten that a blurry, choppy video of Saad Rafique inside a polling station in Lahore became the cornerstone of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) claims of rigging after the 2013 election? These devices need to be present; their utility is incontestable.

Yet the ECP has seen fit to ban even the polling agents from carrying these devices inside the station, the very individuals whose sole purpose is to ensure that the polling process is not being tampered with to the detriment of their party. Where is the logic in that? If the media is allowed to film inside, then principally so should be the public and polling agents.

What is even more bizarre and mindboggling is the fact that army personnel inside polling stations are allowed to carry phones and use them as well. This open disparity is highly questionable, and invites allegations of bias that seemingly are correct.

One is left puzzling why an ECP that is waxing lyrical about its system of using a mobile app to transmit results in real time is at the same time averse to technology making elections more transparent.

The body has no arguments left to justify itself. The media can film and carry phones, the army posted inside the station can do the same – but a concerned polling agent and citizen cannot? The media cannot be everywhere, but the voters can. This policy needs to be reversed immediately.