Overseas Pakistanis Denied Internet Voting in Upcoming General Elections

The upcoming general elections in Pakistan have sparked discussions and controversies surrounding the voting rights of overseas Pakistanis and the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs). Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar recently announced that overseas Pakistanis will not be able to cast their votes through the internet. This decision comes after the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms held an in-camera meeting, with the current National Assembly’s tenure set to end next month. The Election Amendment Bill, 2022, was approved by the lower house of the parliament last year, abolishing voting rights for overseas nationals and blocking the way for the use of EVMs in the next general elections.

Overseas Pakistanis Denied Voting Rights

One of the significant concerns arising from the recent decisions is the denial of voting rights to overseas Pakistanis. In the past, these citizens have played a crucial role in the electoral process, contributing to the national economy through significant remittances. However, with the new amendment in place, they will no longer have the option to cast their votes electronically from abroad. This move has disappointed many overseas Pakistanis who believe that their voices deserve representation in the country’s governance, as their contributions to the nation’s progress should not be overlooked.

Election Commission of Pakistan’s Opposition to EVMs

The use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) has been a contentious issue in Pakistan’s political landscape. While some advocated for the introduction of EVMs to streamline the voting process and minimize potential electoral fraud, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) expressed concerns about their misuse. As a result, the coalition government decided to block the way for EVMs in the upcoming general elections. The absence of EVMs might lead to questions about the transparency and accuracy of the voting process, particularly in a highly contested election.

Impact on Democratic Values

The decisions made regarding overseas voting and EVMs could have broader implications for Pakistan’s democratic values. The exclusion of overseas Pakistanis from the electoral process raises questions about inclusivity and the representation of diverse voices in the country’s governance. Moreover, the skepticism surrounding the use of EVMs and the absence of alternative voting methods might raise concerns about the credibility and fairness of the elections.

As Pakistan prepares for a transition of power, it is essential for policymakers and stakeholders to address these concerns and ensure that the electoral process remains transparent, fair, and inclusive. The decisions made in the coming months will shape the future of democracy in Pakistan.

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