President Arif Alvi has signed an ordinance amending the Election Act 2017 that will provide the Pakistani citizens living across the globe an opportunity to cast vote in the general elections.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) with the technical assistance of the National Database and Registration Authority or any other agency shall enable overseas Pakistan to exercise their right to vote during general elections, the ordinance stated.

The ordinance, Election (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2021, was issued by the president under Article 89 of the Constitution. As per the new law, Section 94 (1) and Section 103 of the Election Act 2017 have been amended.

Section 94 (1) of the ordinance will enable overseas Pakistanis to vote in general elections with technical assistance from the ECP and under Section 103, the commission will also be required to purchase electronic voting machines for voting in the general elections.

The changes in ordinance pertain to electronic voting and biometric verification machines in order to facilitate the participation of expatriates in the elections.

On Tuesday, the federal cabinet had approved the ordinances that would pave ways for e-voting and participation of overseas citizens in the general polls.

“One of the ordinances will enable the ECP to use the EVMs [electronic voting machines] in elections while the other will empower it to take steps to give voting rights to the overseas Pakistanis,” said Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry in a presser after the cabinet meeting.

Political Backdrop

Previously, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) president and National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif turned down a suggestion by Prime Minister Imran Khan to employ electronic voting machines (EVM) to restore the credibility of elections.

Shehbaz took to twitter and said the whole world, including the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), has already turned down the concept of EVM.

He tweeted that such important national decisions cannot be implemented on the orders or whims of a person.

He said electoral reforms can only be introduced with a consensus and the PML-N had introduced reforms in the past with consensus.

The PML-N president said a historic and consensus document signed by all the stakeholders is still there. When the opposition talks of economic reforms and gives suggestions, they are insulted in the name of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

The ruling PTI had also tried to amend the senate election election procedure through an ordinance, which was later declared void by the Supreme Court.

Anas Mallick is an international journalist who has been working as a field reporter for 7+ years now. With a focus on diplomacy, militancy, and conflict, Mallick's expertise involve Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. He tweets at @AnasMallick


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