ISLAMABAD: Officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan will brief a sub-committee of the parliamentary body on poll reforms about arrangements made for a mock exercise for voting by overseas Pakistanis on Tuesday.

According to the agenda of the meeting, the sub-committee headed by former law minister Zahid Hamid will also review the “final draft” of unified election laws.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, Mr Hamid said the sub-committee had asked the ECP about two weeks ago to hold the mock exercise by fielding fictitious candidates and allowing overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes and submit a report to it.

He said the ECP officials would brief the sub-committee about the mock exercise.

Take a look: ECP says it stands by its plan to give overseas Pakistanis right to vote

In reply to a question, he said the sub-committee and the ECP had discussed a number of proposals such as use of postal ballots, voting through internet and in-person voting to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis.

Mr Hamid said members of the sub-committee wanted the ECP to carry out the mock exercise after seeing results of the experiment of using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the recent by-election held on a National Assembly seat in Haripur. A lot of issues related to EVMs had surfaced in some polling stations, he added.

He claimed that the sub-committee would soon complete its task, but refused to give a deadline.

The ECP has constituted a committee headed by Additional Director General (Elections) Masood Malik to suggest mechanism for voting by Pakistani expatriates. Arif Alvi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry of PML-N are its members.

The committee examined different options to facilitate voting by Pakistanis living abroad through postal ballots, internet and in-person voting and forwarded 16 recommendations to the ECP.

According to an ECP official, the number of Pakistanis living abroad is about 6.7 million but only 3.7m have the National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis without which they are not eligible to vote.

Before the 2013 general polls, the option of setting up polling stations in embassies and consulates in over a dozen countries where large numbers of Pakistanis are living or working was discussed, but it was observed that some countries might not allow a gathering of people for the election.

Published in Dawn, September 29th , 2015

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