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Overseas Pakistanis will be able to cast their votes in elections: NADRA

30 January, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) apprised the Supreme Court on Monday that overseas Pakistanis will be able to cast their votes in the forthcoming general elections.

A three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan was hearing a set of pleas seeking right of vote to the overseas Pakistanis.

When the hearing commenced, NADRA Chairman Usman Yousaf Mobin apprised the court that a software will be ready by April this year which will allow overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes. He said the matter pertaining to development of the software has been brought under discussion with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The chief justice appreciated the efforts of both the institutions for the development of a voting system that will empower the overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in general elections and noted that the overseas Pakistanis were willing to fund the program.

To a query, NADRA chairman stated that the development of the software was in process and it will be ready in the first week of April. The chief justice asked NADRA and the ECP to sit together and give the overseas Pakistanis the ‘gift’ before the general election. The court also directed NADRA to furnish a progress report over the matter within a month.

During the hearing, counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) stated that similar software was developed by NADRA in 2012 too. The NADRA head then stated that the software of 2012 was not operational, adding that the current software will provide the overseas voters to visit the respective embassies to cast their votes.

The chief justice noted that PTI claims that it has the support of overseas Pakistanis, however it was not seen anywhere when election reforms were being formulated.

PTI’s senior leader Arif Alvi then stated that PTI had boycotted the election process after the government had taken out a clause from the Elections Act. Justice Bandial noted that the hearts of overseas Pakistanis beat for Pakistan. The chief justice then quipped that there were also some overseas Pakistanis who promised but did not come back, and asked where was former envoy to US Husain Haqqani, adding that would he too get the right to cast vote. “We should send him a notice to come back to Pakistan and face the Memogate case,” the chief justice said, and directed the Registrar office to put up the file of Memogate case.

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