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ISLAMABAD, April 24: The caretaker government expressed its helplessness on Wednesday in extending the right of franchise this year to the Pakistanis living abroad because the newly developed e-voting software is fraught with complications.

“The software developed by Nadra (National Database and Registration Authority) to facilitate the casting of votes by the overseas Pakistanis will need another 18 months to stand the test… and become error-free,” Information Technology Minister Sania Nishtar informed a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

She said the government was facing difficulties in deploying the e-voting system for the overseas Pakistanis in the coming elections and sought guidance from the court.

In addition to the technical issues, the government is also facing diplomatic impediments. The Foreign Office has sought assistance from nine countries, including those in the Gulf region, but only two of them have responded and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has very little time left before May 11, the polling day. Dr Nishtar said that in the absence of proper training of staff at the Pakistani missions abroad, the success of the initiative depended on timely issuance of visas by the countries concerned. Any failure of the embassies to handle casting of votes on the polling day could result in protests that might create an embarrassment for the Pakistani institutions in foreign countries.

And in case of a lack of transparency in the voting process, there would be severe criticism of Pakistan by foreign countries, she feared.

She said allowing e-voting in a few countries might draw concerns from different political parties because they had different vote banks in different countries.

But the explanation offered by the minister failed to convince the Supreme Court which observed that it was the duty of the executive to solve difficulties but prima facie it appeared that the government had surrendered on this matter.

The court was also not happy with the ECP for wasting its time by not rendering proper assistance to it despite the fact that the case had been pending for two years.

Comments (11) Closed

Kashif Apr 25, 2013 10:06am
ECP was never interested in offering voting rights to overseas Pakistanis. Not only they are incapable but they are clearly biased and wants to support the old legacy parties...As Overseas voting will give an edge to PTI which no other party wants it nor interested
Pakistani Apr 25, 2013 10:45am
100% Agree!
MUSSWAR Apr 25, 2013 04:25pm
This is ridiculous and a poor excuse, so we overseas Pakistani can send money back home, improve the economy, support a village(which I'm totally for fantastic idea by IK Mashallah) but we can't vote. Why did they purchase this expensive equipment and could they not tested it, they had all this time to do so. What have the ECP being doing all this time, having tea with the Sharif brothers! This is absolutely outrages that we can't vote. This is our voice and they are stopping us from speaking out. The ECP/PPP/PMLN are fully aware that PTI will sweep the elections and they are trying their best to lessen the humiliation. Can't believe this .... Is there a way that we can sign and send a petition to ECP and they can do something??? we can't leave this the way it is. We have the right to vote and we don't want to be dictated by policies and rules. There must be a way around it. In Shaa Allah we as the nation can make a "Naaya Pakistan". No more to corrupted leaders who only interest is themselves Ameen.
Mahmood Apr 25, 2013 10:28pm
The entire NADRA database is electronic. An E-voting platform was developed and provided free of charge to ECP so that everyone can vote from the comfort of their own home anywhere in the world. It can still be implemented. No training required. We can still meet the May 11 deadline.
Farhan Apr 25, 2013 10:13am
It's obvious that the ECP is partial to the two old parties and is trying it's best to facilitate them. Shame.
Pakistani Apr 25, 2013 10:54am
It was an expected announcement! Congratulations PPP and PMLN you have got out of the fear of PTI's clean sweep! What a shame! By the way what happened to the stolen pc? I hope ECP won't announce incapability of holding election inside Pakistan!
Khalid Apr 25, 2013 08:50am
It is interesting that ECP spent 1,500,000 US Dollars in buying a voting software only to be told that overseas Pakistanis can not vote. I bet no one even questioned anyone as to why and who authorised this spend!!.
ali ahmed Apr 25, 2013 11:16am
C.J knew it....he only played with the sentiment of the people as usual..
concerned212 Apr 25, 2013 01:36pm
They are simply scared that PTI will sweep the general elections if overeas Pakistanis were allowed to vote. Such a shame.
Naeem Apr 25, 2013 01:29pm
Jokers in power cant organise anything completely incompetent .
Bakka Apr 25, 2013 11:55am
Pakistan authorities will only listen to overseas Pakistan if they hurt them in the pocket. Stop sending money until they give in.