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Overseas Pakistanis not deprived of right to vote: law minister

Updated 27 May, 2022
<p>“Overseas Pakistanis are an important asset for the country,” Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad. Screengrab via YouTube/PTV News</p>

“Overseas Pakistanis are an important asset for the country,” Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad. Screengrab via YouTube/PTV News

The government has clarified that overseas Pakistanis are not being deprived of voting under the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022 and slammed the PTI’s apparent propaganda pertaining to expatriates voting rights.

“I should clarify that overseas Pakistanis are our asset for the country. They have a major contribution to the country’s progress and otherwise, they have a vital role in Pakistan’s wellbeing,” Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Friday.

The National Assembly, where the opposition benches mostly remain empty after the ousting of former prime minister Imran Khan’s government, on Thursday passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 that seeks to stop the use of electronic voting machines for general elections and bars overseas Pakistanis from voting.

Elaborating on the details of the bill, the law minister said it was approved by the National Assembly after the votes of a majority of the house members.

The coalition government held the presser to clarify to the people about the legislation as some people were trying to “distract the masses”. For this reason, Tarar, a PML-N lawmaker, was joined by PPP’s Faisal Karim Kundi and JUI-F’s Kamran Murtaza.

“I want to tell that overseas Pakistanis are not ended under the bill and the government does not follow such a policy,” he said that was approved by the Senate on Friday by a majority vote amid the opposition’s protest.

He said the previous government never urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to follow the pilot project for expatriated voting in 2018.

He added that the parliamentary committee had serious concerns pertaining to the use of EVMs in the voting.

“The ECP was of the view that in a country where it took 15-20 years for the people to use ATMs… and I have heard this and it’s my personal experience that the many senior citizens under the BISP people who get Rs4,000-5,000 give Rs200-300 to agents to use ATMs. So voting is the next stage,” Tarar said.

The minister said the ECP called for conducting elections in phases and the government could use the EVMs. The government was also in favour of giving representation to expatriates in parliament but it required amendments to the law.

NAB

The law minister defended the amendments to the NAB bill.