Bill for voting right to expatriates under consideration


The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice is considering a bill to grant the right of voting to Overseas Pakistanis.
An official of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development said that four ministries were involved in this regard.
The ministry has recommended the grant of right of vote to expatriates in the proposed draft policy for overseas Pakistanis and recommended that personal voting and postal ballot may be more viable option to be exercised by overseas having NICOP cards issued by NARDA.
There are different options being used by the different countries in the world, including personal voting and embassies and mission to act as polling stations, postal ballot, proxy votes and electronic voting on line.
However, it is for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to determine the most feasible option in the line with the law and available facilities, the official informed.
The official said presently, the overseas Pakistanis do not have voting right from abroad and it cannot be said whether it would be highly inconvenient for the expatriates living abroad to cast their vote in embassies and consulates.
The voters are based in different regions in their foreign resident countries. Some of them can be near to the Pakistan Mission and some far away.
“The mechanism being proposed, personal and ballot may take care of both these eventualities, however, it is up to the ECP to determine as to which mechanism suit and can facilitate the Overseas Pakistanis for casting of their votes,” the official added.
Since such event has not been experienced, it will be difficult to say whether sending the election material will be difficult or otherwise.
“The ECP is a responsible agency and dispatching the election material is their responsibility. Therefore, the ECP would be in a better position to comment,” he said.
The official said that voting through personal and postal method is being proposed. However, final determination of mode of casting of vote is the mandate of the ECP.
The ministry is of the view that candidate be voted rather than the parties as being done presently and uniform policy may be followed in the country for all voters, be they inside or outside country.