Overseas Pakistanis can be given right of vote through postal ballot: Secretary ECP

Overseas Pakistanis can be given right of vote through postal ballot: Secretary ECP

ISLAMABAD, (SANA): A high level meeting was held on Wednesday in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) pertaining to giving right to overseas Pakistani to cast votes . ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmad said that overseas Pakistanis can be given the right to cast their votes through postal ballot.

The ECP held the meeting to discuss issues over providing voting facilities to overseas Pakistanis. NADRA, IT, foreign ministry, ministry of overseas Pakistanis and including officials of the other ministries participated in the meeting.

Talking to media after the meeting, ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmad said that all the stakeholders discussed the ground realities and legal implications regarding the matter and formulated a report which will be presented in Supreme Court today (Thursday).

He said that ECP will follow the decision of the apex court on this matter.

Replying to a question, Ishtiaq Ahmad said that time is one of the constraints in this regard as election schedule has already been announced and one month is left in polling.

He said that Foreign Ministry is still waiting for response from various countries about the requests sent in this regard.

He said that the Finance Ministry has assured that there are no financial constraints.

According to Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan it was the wish of the commission, Supreme Court and others that overseas Pakistanis should have the facility to vote.

Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan stated that there would be difficulties in providing this facility by the May 11 elections.

He said that time constraint was major a hurdle for providing overseas Pakistanis the facility to vote.

The ECP Secretary informed the media that NADRA had created the software for e-voting which would be presented in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan said that all ministries have assured their complete cooperation regarding ongoing efforts to render voting rights to overseas Pakistanis.

Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan said that vote casting through postal ballot is possible, but the Supreme Court has ordered the commission to develop a system of electronic voting, he added

He said that we have prepared recommendations in this regard, adding that a petition would be filed over the issue.

“The Ministry of Finance has assured that there is not issue of financing,” he said.

The ECP Secretary said that ministries of interior, finance and foreign affairs and overseas Pakistanis would present their arguments before the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan said that final decision regarding giving right of vote to overseas Pakistani will be taken by the Supreme Court.

Earlier, in its report submitted on Tuesday to the Supreme Court, the Election Commission opposed an online voting system for overseas Pakistanis, terming it expensive, time-consuming, and impracticable, contending that facilitating eligible overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the upcoming general elections was not advisable.

It should be mentioned here that that the apex court earlier directed the secretaries of law and justice, information technology, foreign affairs, ministry of oversees Pakistanis and the ECP, as well as the chairman NADRA to devise a mechanism to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the coming polls.

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