Overseas Pakistanis can’t vote this time

Islamabad:  The Election Commission of Pakistan and the federal government on Monday expressed their inability to grant voting right to overseas Pakistanis in the upcoming elections. The Dispatch News Desk (DND) reported.

The petitions of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Ch Nasir Iqbal regarding grant of right to vote to overseas Pakistanis in the general elections have been pending for 15 months. During the hearing of the case on a number of occasions, Attorney General Irfan Qadir himself stated that Pakistani expats should be given right to vote in the forthcoming elections.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, on the ECP and the federation responses disposed of the matter, with an observation that the ECP should make all its efforts to give Overseas Pakistanis right to vote in the general elections under Article 17 of the Constitution. The bench on Monday announced the short order and reasons for it would be recorded later.

During the hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir, submitting a statement, said that he had held a meeting with the chief election commissioner and all the ECP members. “The ECP has appreciated the role of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, keeping in view the utmost concern, desire and expectation which the apex court has from the electoral body to enable the overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes outside their constituencies and the country. On this premise the voters residing within their country but residing outside their constituency or province deserve at least a similar treatment. Surely, all this possible depends on finances and time frame,” the AG further submitted.

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He also told the bench that during the meeting, the ECP unanimously agreed to accomplish the desired task while requesting the government of Pakistan to prepare proposals for the required legislation which might be made applicable to the overseas Pakistanis after the forthcoming general elections in the country. The AGP also stated, “The ECP had also expressed its satisfaction with regard to the efforts made so far by various departments of the federal government to carry out the necessary steps in extending cooperation to achieve the desired results in the shortest possible time, thereby enabling the ECP to agree to the applicability of the aforesaid legislative proposals in the above terms.” The Supreme Court, on the request of Election Commission of Pakistan’s counsel and the attorney general, on the last Friday, granted last opportunity to the ECP to make arrangements for granting voting right to overseas Pakistanis in the upcoming elections.

After hearing the arguments of all the parties and the AGP, when the judge started dictating the short order, Munir Paracha, counsel for ECP, and Attorney General Irfan Qadir, sensing the order could be harsh, prayed to the court hold the order till Monday. They said they would again hold a meeting and examine all the aspects for granting right to vote to Pakistani expatriates. National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) had told the court that it was all set to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis in their right to vote in the general elections, but the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was of the view that it was not possible for it to provide the said facility in such a short time.


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