‘Overseas Pakistanis should get right to vote’

Published: October 31, 2012

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked that Pakistanis living abroad should be provided with the option of postal balloting. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Overseas Pakistanis were thrown another lifeline in terms of their role in the political process of the country.

While the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) may not think it is feasible, the Supreme Court observed on Tuesday that overseas Pakistanis should enjoy voting rights in the next general elections.

Hearing a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, a two-judge bench of the apex court said that a transparent mechanism should be finalised in this regard by the ECP in consultation with the government. The process, it was observed, should mirror the practice that is exercised in around 25 to 30 countries across the globe.

PTI’s counsel Hamid Khan could not appear today before the court; however, on the request of one of his assistants Rana Waqar, the court adjourned the case till November 7.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked that Pakistanis living abroad should be provided with the option of postal balloting.

Earlier, the ECP was considering giving voting rights to more than 4 million Pakistanis who are settled in different countries around the world. However, in October, the commission decided against this move, saying it would be an impossible task to provide voting facilities to so many people abroad – and manage to do so in a transparent and uncontroversial manner.

While most political parties are supportive of the idea, in a meeting with the ECP a number of representatives expressed apprehensions regarding the transparency of the process that the ECP was proposing. They had said that the potential for controversy would just add to the usual political storms that tend to surface after general elections. Overseas votes would play a massive factor in the outcome of elections, given that there are over 4 million potential voters through this process.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Chaudhry and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, also heard a petition filed by Jammat-e-Islami on Tuesday. The petition claimed that the ECP excluded the names of people from Swat who are settled in Karachi for the last 35 years from the voter lists and had, instead, registered their votes in Swat.

The court told the counsel for JI to approach the ECP regarding the matter. There is a provision in the ECP which allows one to approach the commission for registration of their vote on a temporary residential address, the court said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2012.

Reader Comments (9)

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:05AM

    I am of the opinion that voting rights should only be given to those Pakistanis who DO NOT hold dual nationalities.

    What we want is that only pure Pakistanis should cast their votes in the upcoming general elections and not the half Pakistanis.

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  • Shahid
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:35AM

    Yes, absolutely.
    Right to vote cannot be taken away from a Pakistan Citizen of eligible age.
    No citizen of another country but of Pakistan Origin shall have any right on Pakistan Parliament or voting rights. Their allegience is to another country by Oath, not to Pakistan. Even if that person is holding a valid Pakistan Passport or a valid Pakistan Origin ID Card or Overseas Pakistani ID Card, he must show his Pakistan Passport with a VALID VISA issued by the country he is in. He would not have a valid visa is he is a citizen of that country. So, no voting right for a foreigner of Pakistan origin.

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  • Balochiluvpakistan
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:56AM

    If foreign nationals are allowed to even hold key assignments in the government (Interior Ministry), why can’t the normal Pakistani citizens abroad be allowed to vote. Totally agreed with CJ on this one.

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  • Sid
    Oct 31, 2012 - 10:09AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:

    Yeah and all those so called half Pakistani should keep sending their hard earned money back to Pakistan, which is much needed for the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

    I wonder why other 30 countries do not treat their such citizens as half citizens ? Even the countries where they got the other half of the citizenship do not have any problem or issue with them towards their voting rights.

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  • Jat
    Oct 31, 2012 - 10:48AM

    Will that include Rohingya and Bihari Pakisanis stranded in Bangladesh and Myanmar ?

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  • Yaser
    Oct 31, 2012 - 12:15PM

    I vehemently disagree with all commenters who are of the opinion that dual nationality holders should not participate in general elections. I have dual nationality and yes I have taken an oath to protect the interests of my host nation, but it does not dent my patriotism when it comes to protecting the interests of my birth country. My vote has no less value than other Pakistani citizens. We are calling for change to this corrupt relationship based family centred dynasties vying for more for themselves to protect their own interests and their political parties masquerading as thugs who are out to hurt the common man even more. We the voters don’t care for what you will do for yourself and your party thugs but what you will do for us once you come into power.
    Most citizens of Pakistan are in favour of voting rights for dual nationalities but not for occupying a government position or is a part of a political party of Pakistan. My stance of this issue will not change.

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  • mk
    Oct 31, 2012 - 3:27PM

    All pakistanis loving abroad, including those holding a dual nationality should be allowed to participate as voters in the upcoming elections without any questions asked. It’s ECP’s duty to facilitate the process and give equal opportunities to all Pakistani’s. It is nonsensical that ECP who have been give the task of managing the electoral process is citing difficulty in the process. Please straighten up and do your job Sirs – it is your duty to make this work like it does in other nations.

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  • Nauman
    Nov 13, 2012 - 1:31AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui: Who are you to call us half Pakistanis exactly?
    I imagine that you want to make a point here, but kindly don’t throw insults.
    Us half Pakistanis are keeping Pakistan afloat by sending money and transfers worth $millions every month.
    Also us half Pakistanis run business that employ resources from Pakistan.
    Additionally: all major developed countries give these rights to their citizens across the globe, US and Canada included. Why?
    Because we have an equal stake in the outcome of these elections and more importantly it is our right.

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  • Khan
    Nov 22, 2012 - 6:48PM

    to all those who are dual nationals, no one is stopping you from voting.. But when you present youself for public office please give up you other nationality, and those who are shouting “remmitances” dual nationals are a minority, the large percentage of remmiatnces come from middle east countries, who are not dual nationals.. we dont want imported leaders….

    And that is if you believe in democracy, majority wins!!

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