THE former president and the leader of All-Pakistan Muslim League has at last come to Pakistan. The worst governance, poor economy and law and order of the democratically-elected government have forced the people to compare the previous five years with the Musharraf government.

Most of them believe that the Musharraf government was much better than what they had in the last five years. This is obviously because of better law and order, economy, and development during the Musharraf era.

Political leaders and their workers may not like Musharaf, but a large number of people do like him due to his mature leadership. I denounce the act of a person from civil society, a lawyer, who tried in the court room of an honourable judge of the Supreme Court to throw his shoe at the former president.

It was an unfortunate act and must be condemned. One may have political rivalry, but it does not mean one should act in such a rogue manner. Only vote can make a difference.

In this case, my sympathies are with Musharraf who has been defending Pakistan at all levels in the international media.

Now he is bravely facing court cases, which must be appreciated. I urge Musharraf to keep moving forward without hesitation and disappointment to make the country progressive and peaceful.

M. ANIS Karachi

Voters abroad ON the verge of historic change for Pakistani citizenship, the Election Commission’s reasoning for why overseas voting cannot be arranged comes off as little more than an excuse.

It is certainly difficult, but also crucial, to extend suffrage to all citizens of Pakistan, whether inside or outside the country. Prior to the (mis)perception that voting is impossible in Gulf states, it was said that the technology was not available for overseas Pakistanis to do so.

Expatriate populations of various nationalities live all over the Gulf. Many countries negotiate for their citizens living overseas to participate in elections back home, without objections from the authorities in the Gulf states.

Arranging for Pakistanis to vote within their embassies or high commissions can limit political activity (vote registration and polling) to an area considered part of Pakistan on the foreign territory.

It also allows a secure and effective use of the voting technology Nadra has developed, such that the opportunity for abuse is monitored and countered.

The Election Commission of Pakistan also demands a law to award voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, when the Supreme Court has already asked for this provision to be made.

Are orders from the country’s highest court not part of building up the law? Citizens are distinguished from any other relationship between individual and state by the privilege to vote.

Even if living abroad, holders of NICOP are still legitimate Pakistani citizens. And what of those Pakistanis who carry a CNIC, are registered with a permanent address in Pakistan, but are out of the country on the election day?

This includes those living abroad without dual nationality, whether for work, study, medical treatment, marriage or a number of other reasons that do not even occur to the ECP.

Shall I conclude then that as a student on stipend pursuing a doctorate abroad, to usefully contribute to Pakistan in a few years, I struggle in vain? Because on that historic election day, the decision to educate myself makes it difficult for me to travel to Pakistan to vote. And so it must be for thousands of fellow citizens in a similar situation, who are eager to vote. If these are not reasons enough for the Election Commission of Pakistan to reconsider its opinion, it is not helping to uphold the political rights of Pakistani citizens to participate in the democratic process, wherever they may be.

SOUFIA A. SIDDIQI Oxford, England

Hue and cry against scrutiny THIS refers to the hue and cry being raised by certain candidates and quarters against being asked questions about religion or Pakistan by Returning Officers during the scrutiny of the candidates for next elections

The process of accountability that is currently going on against many legislators of the outgoing assemblies for having submitted fake degrees shows how dishonest and unreliable they can be. In addition, the number of cases against corruption and abuse of authority and disregard for the rule of law, too, prove the need for a proper vetting procedure to weed out undesirable contestants from reaching public offices.

Coming to the issue of the questioning by the ROs, one example should suffice to illustrate its importance. A report (April 6) in Dawn says that in Naushahro Feroz an RO rejected nomination forms filed by former MPA and PPP provincial minister for anti corruption, Abdul Haq Bhurt, for PS 21 and NA 212.

It reveals that Mr Bhurt failed to recite the Kalmia and Sura Fatiha and said he did not offer prayers, when questioned by the Returning Officer! Replying to another query about the creation of Pakistan, the gentleman said it came into being in 1937. It is not only unfortunate but highly scandalous that such an ignoramus had been chosen to represent us.

It seems that those people who are largely unaware of religious teachings and Pakistan’s history, as well as their backers, are making a fuss to derail the prudent scrutiny being conducted by the Election Commission of Pakistan. The same CEC, Mr Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim, who until recently was being greatly praised by such politicians, is now being criticised.

S. QADRI Karachi