22 August, 2014 / Shawwal 25, 1435

Overseas Pakistanis’ right to vote

Published Apr 09, 2013 03:57pm

With elections around the corner, a tussle has developed between the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of Pakistan. One insists that the commission make voting arrangements for overseas Pakistanis – the other is adamant that the logistics of managing this task within the next month is next to impossible.

The Supreme Court granted overseas Pakistanis the right to vote last year in February. While in the middle, there was much talk of arrangements being made to implement this right, the ECP now says that any haphazard arrangements, such as voting via an online database, will leave the credibility of free and fair elections under question. Hacking is one hazard, identity impersonation is another. Many countries are already facing problems with E-voting, according to the ECP.

The attorney general, Irfan Qadir, for one, argues that overseas Pakistanis have not been deprived of their right to vote, since they can come back to their home constituencies and vote from there if they like.

Those who are living abroad, however, see it another way. For them, as citizens of Pakistan, they have the right to cast their vote as much as anyone else. Many feel that considering the amount of money they invest in Pakistan in terms of remittances, for example, means it is even more unfair for their voice to be ignored.

Moreover, if Pakistanis living outside the country can exercise their franchise, it could actually have a significant impact on certain constituencies where there are extremely high numbers of Pakistanis living abroad. It can be argued that very few people can afford to come back at a moment’s notice just to cast their vote.

But with time running out, a decision has to be made fast. Is the provision of facilities for voting from abroad feasible? Is it worth the possible consequences of unfair elections? Can the ECP establish a workable system in time?

Moreover, will giving them a chance to vote actually have a significant impact on electoral results?

Comments (25) (Closed)

Taha Shah
Apr 09, 2013 11:15am
I'm a student who studies in Canada, and can't go back to Pakistan to vote because my passport hasn't been delivered to me by the Pakistan Consulate despite me applying for an urgent passport 2 months back. The consulate claims that my passport wouldn't arrive anytime within the next 4 months. In this situation, I'm desperately hoping I get the chance to vote from here. Pakistan is at a crucial juncture, and we must get our chance to bring in elected representatives of our choice.
Apr 09, 2013 11:24am
overseas pakistan must have the right to vote...it effects election results in urban areas mainly and these are the votes that matter because people in rural areas vote to a particular party because thats what they have being doing for generations..we in urban areas evaluate our candidates and then vote...and this vote will bring change... but many people are abroad and we r missing some precious votes... Attorney general's argument is ridiculous..not practical... i hope something is done in this regard soon...
Apr 09, 2013 11:56am
I Agree with Taha, i am stucked in UK because my passport is with home office for visa extension and i can not travel back. I am desperate to vote as well.
Apr 09, 2013 01:08pm
It is ridiculous to suggest someone to fly down to Pakistan just to take part in voting. They need to make arrangements so that overseas Pakistanis can vote. Is Irfan Qadir for real????
Apr 09, 2013 01:55pm
The issue is not voting. it is who to vote for. For example, will we have candidates from overseas countries standing, or would we be expected to vote for candidates in Pakistan of whom we have no knowledge or undestanding and cannot question, etc. An who would they be accountable to, their voters or their parties in Pakistan? I think it is just another gimmick to make fools of us pardesis.
Apr 09, 2013 02:57pm
you love pakistan ? while you are on lenthy lenthy leave
Apr 09, 2013 02:59pm
you love pakistan . while you are on lenghty lenghty leave
Apr 09, 2013 09:01pm
Overseas Pakistanis should be allowed to vote. I am sure 80% will vote for PTI.
Apr 09, 2013 10:14pm
I Live in Malaysia , its my constitutional right to vote .......5-6 million people reside overseas , how can they consider the Election fair if these 5-6 million voters are not included......Why can't they just send the ballot boxes to certain Pakistani embassies in the world and we will take a day off from work with no pay for that day to go and vote just like if we were in Pakistan .
Adil Ali
Apr 09, 2013 10:49pm
Dilemma of Pakistan: Overseas Pakistanis vote is absolutely feasible.If it is not obsolete then its due to chide behaviour of politicians and lack of will power.I really taken aback when I heard news that caretaker interior minister also found partial which is definitely astounded me.Imagine,when every single person may it be politician or civil servents engage such sort of personality clashes then how on earth one can expect transparency in Pakistan in all sphere of lives.
Apr 10, 2013 02:20am
To let overseas Pakistani vote means, a huge victory for PTI!!! How can Sharif 'Nawaz' policy maker will make Nawaz Sharif the next PM????
Asher from Sydney
Apr 10, 2013 02:26am
I can understand the ECP's reservations at this being a humongous task, however better some than none.. i.e. they can start with some countries might be based on convenience of enrollment or number of Pakistanis; they should set an achievable goal for this time and that will give the ECP many fruitful lessons for the next time for a full fledged roll out of e-voting. or may be they can use the NICOP as the criteria; as far as I know forged NICOPs are not as endemic, certainly less errors than the electoral lists anyway. The NICOP Database already exists, all they need is an interface to verify the NICOP holder's details and let them vote! one NICOP, one vote! How hard is that? From my limited IT background, I can see this as an easy viable solution.. Once this is done, forged NICOPs might become the norm, however at least for now, its a good place to start..
Apr 10, 2013 05:24am
We need our right to vote. This issue of overseas Pakistanis getting voting rights has been going on for over a year, why was this not resolved last year. The more I see this ECP in action the more I am convinced that we are again being fooled. We all know who will benefit the most if overseas Pakistanis get their right to vote. It is seriously going to dent the status-quo parties seats.
Farooq Ali
Apr 10, 2013 05:45am
This is a good opportunity for Pakistan to build its good image in the world , the Pakistanis must be given right and a system to vote . Further our embassies can give ads in media projecting Pakistan as a democratic country where every citizen has a right to elect the govt. The opportunity must not be missed as it will give us long term benefits
Registered Voter
Apr 10, 2013 07:43am
During Musharraf-era a refrendum was held and overseas Pakistani's were allowed to participate in that. Is that dictators bypass ordinary steps and do what they think is necessary? The ECP has been given great powers to exercise for a fair and free elector and they have the necessary support for doing so. The ECP must ensure that each Pakistani be allowed to cast their vote in the May11 election. The logistics 'excuse' is a mere drama to help those forces who want to keep minimal participation in elections to help their machinations. This is the age of technology , mass communication and high speed transport , are we making a joke of ourselves by using the logistics excuse? They can hire T.C.S if they cant do it themselves??
Apr 10, 2013 09:04am
We need right to vote - Overseas Pakistanis !!!
Apr 10, 2013 09:41am
This shows how low the mindset he has. He is utter disgrace.
Apr 10, 2013 09:42am
What do you mean?
Jamshed Khan
Apr 10, 2013 06:40pm
Well, okay to expect foreign exchange from overseas Pakistani, but no right to vote?
Jamshed Khan
Apr 10, 2013 06:45pm
Overseas Pakistanis inflict far less harm to Pakistan than those living within its borders. Overseas Pakistanis bring a huge amount of foreign exchange to the country without which our already weak economy will cripple. So let's see who loves Pakistan more.
Apr 10, 2013 09:10pm
I will take a day off from work too to vote.
Apr 10, 2013 09:12pm
Fazalpai...you need to explain yourself much better than this.
Real Pakistani
Apr 11, 2013 07:00am
I am surprised so many institutions in Pakistan are wasting so much time and money on this impossible project. No democratic country having parliamentary system has managed to offer facility to overseas nationals to vote eg UK, India, Canada, Australia. It is possible in presidential system. Voting through internet only should not be acceptable as that will help only one party- the party whose supporters live in their own paradise. Let them build flying castles until 11 May. They will then get on with their life and find 200 other excuses as to why they cannot go back to Pakistan or keep their wealth there, Even their leader keep his children (both or all three) outside Pakistan.
Apr 11, 2013 08:55am
Please allow us to vote for NAYA PAKISTAN
Apr 11, 2013 09:38am
I am not so sure what you meant by this, but if i get it what i think, then you should think of yourself, what you have done for Pakistan. If you can answer to that honestly then you will know. The only thing you have done for Pakistan is spreading negativity and causing harm while paying no tax, stealing money, doing corruption and not adding ay value to the welfare of the society. If you havent been able to do all that then the least you can do is not to blame or discourage the people who are doing something for Pakistan. We give our life away from home to send money back home, coming from a good family with house of 6 bedroom, and living abroad in a small room with 2 more people to share with just to help Pakistan. If you are not brave enough to do all this then dont be so brave to taunt others.