No voting rights for
overseas Pakistanis,
no use of electronic
machines in election

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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly of Pakistan on Thursday passed the Election Amendment Bill, 2022, to revoke the voting rights for overseas Pakistanis and prevent the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in general elections.

Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran Khan sanctioned the use of EVMs for the next polls in a joint parliamentary sitting in February, though the opposition factions, which are now in government, resisted the move and vowed to challenge it in the country’s top court.

Imran Khan also wanted overseas Pakistanis to vote in future elections, saying that they made major contributions to the country’s economy by sending remittances. The former prime minister is also said to have a massive following among the Pakistani diaspora.

ISLAMABAD: Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar speaks during the National Assembly session on Thursday.

The election amendment bill, which was tabled by parliamentary affairs minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi, was passed with majority and sent to the Senate for approval.

“Overseas Pakistanis are precious asset of the country and the government does not believe in snatching their right to vote,” law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar was quoted by Radio Pakistan in the context of pilot testing of new forms of voting system.

Ex-PM Khan said earlier this year he wanted to make future elections more transparent by introducing technology, through his political rivals accused him of trying to manipulate voting process to his party’s advantage through EVMs that had never been tested in Pakistan.

Tarar noted the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was also opposed to the introduction of EVMs since their potential of misuse and tampering was too high.

The National Assembly of Pakistan passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022 on Thursday, which seeks to remove the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in general elections as well as disallows overseas Pakistanis from voting.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi presented the bill that was passed with a majority vote, with only members of the Grand Democratic Alliance opposing it.

Before presenting the bill, Abbasi presented a motion for allowing the bill to be sent directly to the Senate for its approval, bypassing the relevant standing committee. The motion was also passed by the NA with a majority vote. The bill is expected to be sent to the Senate today (Friday).