Wednesday Jul 18 2018

Overseas Pakistanis won't be able to vote in election: NADRA officials

ISLAMABAD: Overseas Pakistanis will not be able to vote in the forthcoming general election in the country, officials of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) said Wednesday.

NADRA officials told Geo News that Pakistan nationals abroad were being misled through various campaigns on social networking platforms.

They said no decision had yet been made with regard to online voting facility for overseas Pakistanis.

"Online voting for overseas Pakistanis can be experimented in by-polls," the officials said.

"Pakistanis abroad will have to come to the country for using their right to vote in the general election."

They further clarified that even after coming to the country, only those individuals would be able to vote, who are registered voters in Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that a case pertaining to overseas Pakistanis' right to vote is sub-judice with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

In March, Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar had said that overseas Pakistanis will be provided the right to cast their votes.

Hearing a case pertaining to dual citizenship of judges and civil servants, Justice Nisar had noted that it was about time that overseas Pakistanis are allowed to be part of the local elections process.

"Overseas Pakistanis have exercised enough patience," he said. "We will provide them with the right to cast votes."

Later in April, information technology (IT) experts had also raised objections over an e-voting software prepared by NADRA to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the forthcoming elections.

During hearing of a case pertaining to voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, the NADRA chairman had briefed the SC bench, officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and representatives of different political parties on the e-voting system.

The official had said that providing e-voting facility to around 7 million overseas Pakistanis would cost Rs150 million.

In his remarks, the chief justice had maintained that the constitution grants voting right to every Pakistani and the court had ordered to provide overseas Pakistanis with the right to vote in 2013.

But IT experts questioned reliability of NADRA's software.

Taha Ali, an IT expert from NUST, said that different countries, including the United States, Australia and Norway, tried such software, but withdrew them later.

"It's not difficult to hack an e-voting system," Ali said, adding that even if it was not hacked, stealing the data was not a big deal.

The case pertaining to overseas Pakistanis' right to vote still remains sub-judice with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.