For overseas Pakistanis: Objection on petitions seeking right to vote overturned

Counsel says client practically unrepresented

Our Correspondent May 10, 2016
Counsel says client practically unrepresented. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: The Supreme Court Lahore Registry on Tuesday removed an objection on petitions seeking the right to vote for dual Pakistani American nations and ordered them to be fixed for hearing.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan heard the petitions and removed the objection placed by the registrar’s office of the Apex Court. The counsel for the petitioners Tipu Salman Mahmood said the office had directed his client Farhat Javed to approach the legislature in this regard. He said she was not in a position to do this at all as she was practically unrepresented by virtue of not having the right to cast her vote. At this, the judge removed the objection remarking that this was an important matter that ought to be fixed for adjudication.

Mahmood said his client was a Pakistani medical professional who was based in the United States of America (USA).

He said she had regularly contributed towards the nation’s welfare through the money she regularly remitted to Pakistan. Mahmood said she had been consecutively denied the right to cast her vote—a fundamental one—constitutionally guaranteed under Article 17.

Through her petition, he said, she was speaking for over eight million Pakistanis resident abroad.

The doctor’s counsel said that the Supreme Court—in its order PLD 2014—stated that Article 17 made it binding on the federal government to ensure that overseas Pakistanis were facilitated when it came to vote in both, general and local government elections.

Following the orders, he said, the government had promulgated an ordinance to this effect on May 9 thereafter. However, the ordinance died after four months because it was never placed before the parliament, Mahmood said.

He said it was a travesty of fate that the very overseas Pakistanis who were allowed to vote in the 2002 presidential referendum were denied the right to cast their ballot in the general elections organised later in the same year. In any election, Mahmood said, overseas Pakistanis were not extended the right to vote. He requested the court to direct the federal government to take all necessary steps to ensure that overseas Pakistanis were able to exercise their right to vote.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2016.


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