FO seeks names of polling officers to be stationed abroad


Foreign Office (FO) has written a letter to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking names of polling officers to be stationed abroad.
In its letter, the FO said names of polling officers be provided at the earliest so that necessary work including visa processing could be initiated.
Sources said the ECP was waiting for a governmental ordinance authorising voting rights to overseas Pakistanis.
According to available data, of the 4.5 million overseas Pakistanis found on voters’ lists, 1.7 million live in Saudi Arabia, 1.3 million in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 277,131 in Oman, 131,589 in Kuwait and 80,166 in Bahrain.
Furthermore, there are 367,988 registered Pakistani voters in the United Kingdom (UK), 131,589 in the United States (US), 90,148 in Canada, 56,495 in Greece, 55,851 in Malaysia, 39,618 in Spain, 23,585 in France and 15,728 in Australia.
Representatives of Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) told the Supreme Court (SC) that it is set to assist overseas Pakistanis in voting during general elections, but the ECP has reportedly said it was not possible for the commission to coordinate overseas voting, as there is not enough time to prepare.
NADRA told the court that seven countries- Oman, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Kuwait, and Britain- had given consent to assist Pakistani citizens in the process.
According to reports, the chairman of NADRA said the software prepared to recognise overseas Pakistanis who wish to vote would be tested on May 2, after which it would be installed in six more countries.
Last month, a bench of the SC headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had directed the secretaries of law and justice, information technology, foreign affairs, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and the ECP, as well as the chairman of NADRA, to coordinate efforts for devising a mechanism which would enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in elections. On Friday, the SC resumed hearing the case and the chief justice, in his remarks, said nothing was impossible if commitment and sincerity was shown.
In the general election, voting will take place in all parliamentary constituencies of Pakistan to elect members in the National Assembly, and to the four Provincial Assemblies (Punjab Assembly, Sindh Assembly, Balochistan Assembly and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly).