Increasing voter pool: ECP grants overseas Pakistanis voting rights

Published: February 15, 2012

Overseas Pakistanis Minister Farooq Sattar said, “This decision will enable them to become a part of Parliament, as they are sending over $11 billion in remittances (to Pakistan) per annum”. PHOTO: ONLINE/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: Voting rights were finally granted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to 3.7 million overseas Pakistanis on Tuesday. 

“The decision will pave the way for overseas Pakistanis to actively take part in national politics,” observed ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan. The move was immediately praised by parties across the political spectrum.

Overseas Pakistanis Minister Farooq Sattar said, “This decision will enable them to become a part of Parliament, as they are sending over $11 billion in remittances (to Pakistan) per annum”. They should also be given representation on reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies, he added. “The ECP’s move is a historic step for strengthening democracy by involving more and more people in electoral process,” observed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mushahidullah Khan.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also directed the ECP to take all necessary measures to facilitate and help overseas Pakistanis exercise their right to vote in the countries of their residence.

Debate on whether overseas Pakistanis should be allowed to exercise voting rights in Pakistan’s elections gained steam when a number of political parties took up the issue. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan had earlier moved the Supreme Court, demanding that those living abroad should be allowed to vote.

The names of Pakistanis who have overseas identity cards have been registered in voters’ lists. Those who do not have will not be able to cast their votes. The majority of overseas Pakistanis live in 15 countries, particularly in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the UK, the US, Greece, Germany, Australia and Canada, the ECP secretary added.

Before the formal announcement, the secretary held a meeting with officials from the foreign affairs, overseas Pakistanis and law ministries, along with other departments concerned in order to discuss the logistics of enabling the 3.7 million voters to exercise their balloting rights. Polling booths will be established for them in their respective countries with an assurance of free and fair elections. Ballot papers will be posted to them as well.

“A comprehensive polling mechanism will be finalised in light of recommendations being prepared by the ministries and departments concerned,” Ishtiak Ahmed Khan told The Express Tribune. All departments have been asked to work out further details and submit their recommendations in the meeting so that necessary amendments could be made in the laws where required.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • kala_bacha
    Feb 15, 2012 - 8:40AM

    It is interesting the people who live in Pakistan they cast fake votes now this fraud making overseas Pakistanis to be part of it. Real funny no way verify if vote is cast by jack or jawed. Pakistan made another history and making election rigging!

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  • Khalid Javed- UAE
    Feb 15, 2012 - 9:01AM

    A welcome move. Previously, we (the overseas Pakistanis) could do nothing except spoiling our evenings by watching TV talk shows containing meaningless discussions characterized by shallow political rhetoric & mutual wrangling of the politicians.

    The right to vote to 3.7 Millions Overseas Pakistanis will emerge as a very positive influence over the political scene of Pakistan & will give us a chance to contribute practically & participate in the democratic process in order to bring about the much-needed change.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Feb 15, 2012 - 9:25AM

    This time the overseas Pakistanis are going to vote for PTI and Imran Khan.

    Overseas Pakistan are equally worried of the state of affairs in Pakistan.

    Good luck Imran, it is good for PTI to come up.

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  • CK
    Feb 15, 2012 - 9:28AM

    Imran Khan is the biggest beneficiary.Recommend

  • Feb 15, 2012 - 9:34AM

    A good move . Also and more required is the ability for voters within Pakistan but outside their constituency on the polling day, to be able to vote. This could easily be done through
    e-voting with already machine readable NICs.

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  • Ali
    Feb 15, 2012 - 10:25AM

    Good move.

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  • Wajih Abbasi
    Feb 15, 2012 - 3:46PM

    It is a good move. Every citizen, wherever he may be living, should have right to take part in the decision making of the country. Election is the most important mathod of taking part in the decision making. That is why many countries have compulsory voting system. It would be good if Pakistanis living abroad can participate in the election process,
    Having said that it would be a very expensive excercise fraught with dangers of election frauds. It would be up to Parliament and the Election Commission to devise a system through which a free, fair and transparent system for participation of overseas Pakistanis is devised. It is hoped that these two institutions will be allowed to do their work. It will be unfortunate if some other institution tries to super impose any hasty decision in this regard.

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  • Feb 16, 2012 - 12:38AM

    awesomeee

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  • raja
    Feb 16, 2012 - 3:18AM

    dual nationals should not be allowed to vote only overseas Pakistanis and all modern technology should be used to stop fraud votes

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  • waqar ul islam
    Feb 17, 2012 - 10:52AM

    it’s Change

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  • Umer Rasheed
    Feb 17, 2012 - 11:13AM

    Thank God

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  • muhammad abdullah aamer
    Feb 17, 2012 - 12:36PM

    Thanks to Allah,finally with the effort of Imran khan or whoever ECP consider us a pakistani and gave us a chance to select a person to rule over pakistan not rule actually but serve The pakistan,we need a worker not ruler.we will inshallah vote imran khan,because he’s the person who will save pakistan,Inshallah,wish u all the very best imran khan and well done ECP,just tell us how can we vote in abroad? By electronically or shud go to some where to vote? Thanks,I’m happy!

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  • Mahin Khalid
    Feb 20, 2012 - 4:34AM

    Finally this is amazing. Me along with so many other pakistanis finally have a chance to do something good for our nation and I intend to take full advantage of this opportunity. Its time for change, its time for PTI, its time for Imran Khan.

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