Pakistani-Americans Hail Voting Rights Move

 

Washington, DC The Pakistani-American community has welcomed the Election Commission of Pakistan’s move, allowing the large diaspora the right to vote in future elections. The leaders of the community and political activists called the Election Commission’s announcement a historic step in the right direction for both democracy in the country and overseas Pakistanis, who number more than five million.

“It is a very good news. Overseas Pakistanis make enormous contribution to development of Pakistan and for the welfare of their compatriots back home. We remain dedicated to the strengthening of the solidarity and integrity of our motherland,” said Shafqat Tanveer, president of Pakistan Peoples Party, USA.

The Pakistani diaspora actually deserves reserved seats in Pakistan’s parliament and “we remain hopeful that the day is not far off when this demand would also be met.”

Muhammad Siddique Sheikh, a Virginia-based business leader who is the director of the Overseas Pakistanis Board, said the development is the result of concerted efforts.

“We have been voicing support for this right for Pakistani expatriates since it gives them a sense of participation in the country’s political and democratic process,” he said.

Sheikh said the Overseas Pakistanis Board has been urging the government and also talked to the embassy to grant the right to vote to overseas Pakistan. “The expatriates send huge sums of foreign exchange back home and increase business prospects --- this political right will certainly encourage them to work more for the betterment of the country,” said Sheikh, who is the founder of the Pakistan-American Business Association.

Applauding the decision, Mossadaq Chughtai, a prominent community leader, said the Pakistanis living abroad should cast their ballot in big numbers and help their countrymen make right choices for a successful democratic future.

“I hope that the Election Commission will also ensure that integrity and sanctity of the ballot is respected by devising a voting method that conveys the voice of the overseas Pakistanis,” added Chughtai, who is a director of the Pakistani-American Leadership Center, which works at Capitol Hill.

Chughtai also appreciated Pakistani ambassador Sherry Rehman’s pledge to be receptive to ideas of the Pakistani-American community for their well being as well as improvement in Pakistan-US relations.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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