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Chief justice favours voting right for Pakistanis abroad

Publication Date : 31-10-2012


Pakistan's Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has suggested that citizens of the country living abroad should be given the right to vote.

“Prima facie we are of the opinion that they (overseas Pakistanis) should be given the right of franchise,” he said while heading a two-judge bench that had taken up a petition of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan for granting voting right to the Pakistanis living abroad.

The overseas Pakistanis shed blood and sweat to earn foreign exchange for the country, the chief justice observed and said that 24 to 25 countries had granted the right to their citizens living abroad through a system of postal ballots.

Advocate Waqar Rana, who appeared in the absence of Hamid Khan, the main counsel for Imran Khan, recalled that at the last hearing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had assured the court of submitting proposals to grant the right to overseas Pakistanis after consulting the federal government.

But no-one from the commission was there on Tuesday to say something about the latest situation in this regard.

“They have gone to celebrate Eid,” the court said. It observed that it failed to understand why the counsel was not showing interest in the matter.

But, the CJ expressed the hope that modalities would soon be evolved to let the Pakistanis living abroad take part in the general election in a transparent manner because the elections were just round the corner.

During the proceedings on January 24, the ECP had told the court that the task of granting voting right to overseas Pakistanis seemed arduous because they numbered eight million and lived in different countries.

The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) had stated that it had issued 4.4 million national identity cards to overseas Pakistanis (NICOPs), living in 20 countries. An official said the authority had registered over 1.5 million people in Saudi Arabia, 1.3 million in UAE, 829,080 in UK, 197,540 in US, 19,465 in Germany and 150,020 in Canada.

The figure of 4.4 million did not include the people who had gone abroad from Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, the official said.

Out of the 4.4 million, 3.7 million were men and 612,830 women, he said.


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