AG sees no hope for inclusion of oversees Pakistanis in elections

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Attorney General (AG) Irfan Qadir on Monday said that the inclusion of overseas Pakistanis to exercise their right to vote in the forthcoming elections was a very complex process.

He expressed these views before a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed during the hearing of Imran Khan’s petition regarding electoral reforms.

During the course of proceeding, the AG apprised the bench regarding his meeting with the officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other stakeholders.

“Amendments in the rules were discussed during the meeting and it will surely be not an easy task before the upcoming elections,” he said.

He further stated that only in Saudi Arabia 1.5 million Pakistanis were residing, where 400 to 500 polling booths would be needed and at each polling booth at least four to five polling staff would be required.

The chief justice asked whether the option of E-balloting was discussed during the meeting.

Responding to the query, the AG said the option was not discussed as it could become very confusing since people from constituency could demand to cast their votes from another constituency.

Justice Saeed said it was the constitutional right of every overseas Pakistani to exercise the right to vote and it was the duty of ECP to make sure their names were in the electoral lists.

The CJ said that the court was fully aware of the fact that it was not an easy task, yet ECP should take a practical approach and try its best to ensure all voters were taken on board.

He also suggested to the AG that he could a hold meeting with the law minister and representatives of ECP in order to find out some easy way to solve the problem.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry also stated that they might hold a debate in the parliament on the issue and there was a hope that some solution might come out of that debate.

The meeting was adjourned till March 12.