The Election Commission of Pakistan. — AFP File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission has granted 3.7 million Overseas Pakistanis the right to vote. Their names will be included in the preliminary electoral rolls.

However, modalities for the intricate plan are yet to be worked out. Informed sources said various options were considered at a meeting presided over by Secretary of Election Commission Ishtiak Ahmad Khan on Tuesday.

The matters discussed at the meeting included setting up polling stations in embassies and consulates in over a dozen countries where large numbers of Pakistanis are living or work and expatriates in other countries being allowed to cast their votes through postal ballot.

The sources said that another proposal discussed was to allocate some seats in national and provincial assemblies with Overseas Pakistanis being the electoral college. The proposed criteria for candidates will be a minimum stay of three years abroad and remittances of at least $50,000. Those possessing dual nationality will have to surrender their foreign nationality to qualify as a voter.

EC Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan told this reporter that the total number of Overseas Pakistanis was 6.7 million, but only 3.7 million of them holding national identity cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) would be eligible to vote.

He said there were 1.7 million Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia and 1.2 million each in the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.

The other countries with large concentration of Pakistanis include United States (0.9 million), Canada (0.3 million), Oman (0.2 million), Kuwait (150,000), Greece (90,000), Germany (78,000), France and Scotland (60,000 each), Denmark (30,000) and Australia (27,000).

At the meeting, he invited suggestions for ways to get Overseas Pakistanis involved in the political process in Pakistan. The meeting discussed ways of enabling expatriates to cast their votes in a fair, transparent and acceptable manner.

The IT branch proposed that a detailed study should be carried to benefit from experience of other countries. But the EC secretary said “we have the first hand knowledge of our country and our condition and we must be dynamic and the pioneer in taking initiative towards a positive democratic system”.

He said all relevant ministries were committed to playing their role to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes with ease.

Each ministry will formulate its proposal and present it to the committee in a meeting likely to be held next month.

Though the work on a proposal to give the right to vote to Overseas Pakistanis has been continuing for quite some time, the Supreme Court, on a petition filed by PTI chief Imran Khan, recently directed the Election Commission to study whether Pakistanis living abroad could exercise the right and work out a plan in the light and experience of other countries.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the ministries of law, finance, Overseas Pakistanis and International Foundation for Electoral System.

Opinion

Elite privileges
20 Apr 2021

Elite privileges

Elite bargains provide a powerful view of our political economy.
A conjurer of limitless hope
20 Apr 2021

A conjurer of limitless hope

Rehman Sahib came across as a battle-scarred soldier who was perpetually planning to regroup after a setback.
Cabinet lotto
Updated 20 Apr 2021

Cabinet lotto

To return to finance, the second change in the key ministry is interesting for how it differs from the first.
Election ex machina
Updated 19 Apr 2021

Election ex machina

Neither EVMs nor i-voting are new innovations, yet their use remains deeply controversial.

Editorial

Media blackout
Updated 20 Apr 2021

Media blackout

A free flow of information is the best way to counter rumour-mongering and fake news.
20 Apr 2021

Gas utilities’ reluctance

THE government has ‘ordered’ state-owned gas companies SSGC and SNGPL to remove impediments hampering the...
20 Apr 2021

Saudi-Iran talks

EVER since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, ties between Tehran and Riyadh have been increasingly strained,...
19 Apr 2021

Vaccine shortfall

THE hope that the slew of Covid-19 vaccinations approved for use since the end of last year would vanquish the ...
Another package
Updated 19 Apr 2021

Another package

Sindh has not seen much development worth the name during the PPP’s more than decade-long rule in the province.
19 Apr 2021

Cricket triumph

TEAM Pakistan have a number of reasons to rejoice after their 3-1 T20 series win over hosts South Africa on Friday....