ISLAMABAD: The petition against amendments made to Election Act regarding right to vote to overseas Pakistanis has been withdrawn from the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The IHC single bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah took up the petition.

The petitioner’s counsel Arif Chaudhry argued that the government had introduced the legislation in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court in 2018.

In 2018, the apex court had directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure that overseas Pakistanis exercise their right to vote in the upcoming by-polls in the country as a pilot project.

IHC chief justice during the proceedings remarked that the petition was premature since the President had not signed the bill into law.

The court dismissed the petition as the petitioners sought to withdraw it.

The election reforms were introduced by PTI regime seeking the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and e-voting for overseas Pakistani in upcoming elections.

As soon as the present government took over, their aim was to reverse election reforms and introduced amendments to the NAB before heading towards fresh elections. The bill seeking to amend the act was approved by both the houses (upper and lower) and was sent for approval to President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi for approval.

This move was criticised by PTI leaders and also decided to take the matter to the court.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar in a recent press conference said the government has neither rejected the use of EVM in election nor denied the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis rather the government had left the matter to ECP to decide.

Published in Dawn,June 7th, 2022

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