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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Election Commission has decided to include an empty slot in the list of candidates on ballot papers for the coming elections, allowing voters to abstain from choosing any of the contesting candidates if they choose not to.

The Election Commission took this decision at a meeting held in Islamabad on Wednesday.

This will be the first time in Pakistan, where voter turnout is said to be historically low, that the ballot would include a “None of the above” option.

Secretary Election Commission Ishtiaque Ahmed Khan told reporters that a request would be put up with caretaker prime minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso for an ordinance to be signed by the president in this regard.

All the political parties and the people want free and fair polls, said Khan.

Khan said that a decision to how to allow overseas Pakistanis to vote would be taken on Tuesday, when the commission’s officials will meet with the Attorney General and Nadra officials.

Regarding fake degrees, the ECP Secretary said that 24 former lawmakers have already been issued notices on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the ECP has already uploaded a list of 189 former parliamentarians who cases regarding fake matriculation and intermediate certificates are still pending.

Khan said that the ECP has set up a National Election Scrutiny cell, while monitoring of sensitive polling stations would be held through satellite.

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