Govt rejects PML-N’s reserved seats proposal

Says overseas Pakistanis have right to vote under Constitution


News Desk June 28, 2021

The federal government has rejected National Assembly Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif’s proposal for representation of the overseas Pakistanis in the parliament and declared it a “fraud” while reaffirming commitment to give right to vote to expats “according to the Constitution”.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised to the overseas Pakistanis to include them in the lawmaking process but it cannot be done by the method suggested by Shehbaz Sharif," Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan said on Monday in a press conference.

“Overseas Pakistanis already have the right to vote under Article 17, Article 19 and Article 106(2) of the Constitution which cannot be undone by accepting Shehbaz's suggestions,” Dr Awan added.

Shehbaz on June 26 proposed that reserve seats should be allocated in the National Assembly and the Senate for the overseas Pakistanis as this way “the representatives of Pakistanis living abroad would be able to raise issues being faced by the expats in both houses of the parliament”.

Shehbaz, who is also the president of the PML-N, had proposed to allocate five to seven seats in the National Assembly and two seats in the Senate to expats. “This method can ensure a secure representation of Pakistanis living abroad in the parliament,” he had said in an official statement.

According to the opposition leader the modalities and conditions of representation on these seats should be decided by all the political parties in the parliament. “The required legislation can be enacted by consensus of the political parties.”

Apparently, the PTI government is in favour of allowing overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes via the internet and postal balloting.

However, Shehbaz had proposed that the expats should come to the country at the time of elections and cast their votes according to the voters lists.

Commenting on the proposal, Dr Awan said Shehbaz's plan aims at bringing some favoured people in the parliament and to deprive 10 million citizens of their right to vote. "[Shehbaz’s plan is] a fraud and flawed strategy," Dr Awan added.

“Stop making a mockery out of the Constitution and forget about buying and selling," he said, addressing himself to the opposition leader, adding that only Article 8 of the Constitution prohibits overseas Pakistani from exercising their right to vote.

Dr Babar Awan has said Prime Minister Imran Khan is committed to granting the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis with the aim to include them in the decision-making process. The right to vote is a fundamental right of overseas Pakistanis, he added.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan and his coalition partners believe in the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. Judicial reforms are the government's top priority after electoral reforms.

“The PTI-led federal government believes in the supremacy of the parliament and wants all legislation to be done through it,” the adviser added.

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