SC accepts 16 petitions

Expats voting rights

Staff Reporter

Islamabad

The Supreme Court on Friday accepted 16 petitions regarding overseas Pakistanis’ right to vote in the elections.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Musheer Alam and Justice Sajjad Shah, will take up the case on January 10.
The petitions, filed by members of civil society, appeal that the state set up the appropriate infrastructure so that overseas Pakistanis can cast their vote in elections held in Pakistan. At least eight million Pakistanis live abroad.
In 2013, the then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had ruled that no legislation was required to give voting rights to overseas Pakistanis and went on to say that elections could not be termed free and fair unless expats were allowed to vote. He had ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to take concrete steps to enable participation of overseas Pakistanis in the polls.
However, ECP was unable to set up proper infrastructure to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the 2013 general election.
In November 2017, the ECP told a parliamentary committee that overseas Pakistanis will not be able to vote in the 2018 general elections.
A day before the petitions were accepted, the ECP on Thursday had submitted a report to the National Assembly, admitting that the trial methods used by the body for overseas voting did not prove to be effective. ECP said it had experimented using postal ballots and televoting in London, Glasgow, Manchester, Bradford, Dubai, Riyadh and New York.

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