Convicted three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif and now former candidate Maryam Nawaz will be unable to vote in the upcoming elections as the deadline for prisoners to register through postal ballots has passed.
The deadline for registration of postal ballots for inmates was July 5. Prisoners across the country cast their votes through postal ballot papers issued and prepared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). However, since the deposed premier, his daughter and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar were imprisoned after the ECP deadline, their votes have not been registered.
ECP Spokesperson Nadeem Qasim also confirmed to The Express Tribune that the deadline for inmates’ voting registration has passed and hence, the trio will not be voting. The Avenfield reference verdict sentenced Nawaz to ten years rigorous imprisonment, Maryam to seven and Safdar to two years on July 6, a day after the deadline expired.
Qasim added that the ECP cannot take any measures on the issue. Distribution of ballot papers to all those registered will commence from July 22, the commission confirmed.
While Safdar was taken into custody on July 9, the father-daughter duo arrived in the country on July 13 and were apprehended on arrival. Both of them were shifted to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi the same night. The trio have been in jail since.
“Maryam’s nomination papers were accepted, one of the prerequisites of registering as an electable is to be a registered voter. Maryam is a registered voter, she should have a vote,” said Mushahidullah Khan, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader. “Lekin, July 25 ko unke kadmon mei itnay vote nichawar kardeinge ke faraq bhi nahi parega,” he added [We will shower with so many votes, it won’t even matter that they could not cast one].
Interestingly, during the last three decades, Nawaz did not vote on only one other occasion; in the 2002 general elections as he was in self-imposed exile. And now, in the 2018 elections, he will not be casting his vote a second time.