The joint parliamentary session held on 17th November 2021 will be long remembered because the ruling party took a courageous step by presenting 33 bills to the house for enactment. Although the action was taken in a hurry, its significance must not be undermined.
The most revolutionary and significant enactment relates to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the general elections. This will replace the old rustic system of paper balloting, which has caused several problems in the past like casting of fake votes, alteration of results during compilation, delay in announcement, etc. This created doubts among the people concerning transparency and fairness of elections and resulted in prolonged agitations by the aggrieved parties. These problems will now be overcome. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is bound to conduct elections in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the country. It is also under constitutional obligation to conduct transparent and fair elections and for this purpose, it must utilise all the available means. The ECP should formulate a comprehensive training programme for the staff to ensure that they are able to handle the EVMs effectively during the elections.
Another bill passed in the joint session gave voting rights to overseas Pakistanis in general elections. Through their valued remittances, overseas Pakistanis are playing a key role in the economy. During the fiscal year 2020-21, they had remitted approximately $29 billion to Pakistan. Therefore, giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis is justified. These are paramount changes that people had been demanding for a long time. It is great to see the demands finally materialising.
Abdul Alim Nasir
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2021.