Overseas Pakistanis not to cast vote due to incomplete arrangements, ECP

ISLAMABAD: It seems that overseas Pakistanis would not be able to participate in general elections as the government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) have mutually came to consensus that the Pakistanis living abroad should not be allowed to cast their votes in May 11 elections because of ‘incomplete’ arrangements, sources told on Thursday.

On Wednesday a top official of the ECP had telephoned Attorney General Irfan Qadir and sought government’s support to the ECP stance over overseas Pakistanis’ right to cast their votes. Any decision in this regard should not be taken in haste, the ECP official had reportedly told the attorney general.

The ECP official also asked the attorney general to endorse the commission’s point of view at the next hearing of the apex court on April 11.

The Supreme Court had directed the government and the ECP to ensure that overseas Pakistanis cast their votes in the upcoming elections.

The scheduled meeting of the ECP and the attorney general was cancelled on Wednesday because of non-availability of the latter.

When contacted, the attorney general endorsed the stance of the ECP and said nobody had usurped the right of vote of any Pakistani but the decision should not be taken in a hurry.

“All Pakistanis have equal rights to vote whether they are inside the country or abroad,” he added.

He was of the view that equality of right required that if overseas Pakistanis wanted to exercise their right of franchise they must come to their relevant constituency to use their right.

“The same is the case with the voters in the country that if they are living anywhere in Pakistan they have to go to their respective constituency and cast their vote,” the attorney general said.