Plan to give voting rights to overseas Pakistanis dropped


The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday said more than four million overseas Pakistani’s will not be allowed to exercise their right to vote from their country of residence in the coming general election.
The reasons behind the decision were described as legal hurdles and the unavailability of an adequate voting mechanism for the overseas voters spread across 106 countries. The Pakistanis abroad will have to travel to Pakistan to cast their ballot, if they so desire. The ECP also decided that polling would be conducted again at polling stations reserved for women registering a turnout of less than 10 percent.
In its meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Fakhruudin G Ebrahim on Wednesday, the ECP unanimously passed a bill to ensure maximum participation of women in the coming election. After unanimously approving the bill, the ECP decided to send it to the Ministry of Law and Justice for forwarding it to parliament for legislation. Besides others, all members of the ECP, ECP secretary and all provincial election commissioners attended the meeting. The participants of the meeting were of the view that the bill would encourage women to cast their votes and at the same time it would discourage those who were in favor of barring women from polling votes. During the meeting, the ECP decided to look into citizenship details of sitting parliamentarians, as it had finalized a new affidavit form to take fresh oath from all the lawmakers on their nationality. The ECP said the new affidavit forms would be sent to lawmakers within the next three days asking them to submit a reply within 15 days.
During the meeting, the ECP also announced holding by-elections on November 17 in eight constituencies falling vacant due to the disqualification of dual national lawmakers.
The meeting also approved registration of seven new political parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Humkhayal. The other parties registered are Pakistan Justice Party, Pakistan Muhammadi Party, Public Forum, Pakistan Falah Party, Pakistan Hizbullah Party and All Pakistan People’s Qaumi Movement.
The requests of allotment of symbols from three recognized political parties were also considered and they were issued symbols. Paksitan Rah-e-Haq Party was allotted charpoy, Sada-e-Pakistan was allotted wrist watch and Tehreek Ehtahad-e-Adam was allotted a ring as its election symbol.