Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Voting right to overseas Pakistanis impossible in upcoming polls: AGP

By Hasnaat Malik

ISLAMABAD: After holding three meetings with the stakeholders, attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) has informed the Supreme Court that allowing overseas Pakistanis chance to exercise their right to vote would be impossible in the upcoming general elections.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court has asked the AGP to take up this issue with the government functionaries for a debate in parliament, saying parliamentarians would be better aware of the outcome of allowing overseas Pakistanis right to vote. A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, also made it clear that the Election Commission of Pakistan’s integrity and transparency of the elections should not be undermined in any decision on this issue.

During the hearing, AGP Irfan Qadir said that the third meeting of all stakeholders was held at his office, and the counsel for the applicant had given a detailed briefing to the participants regarding the possibility of giving overseas Pakistanis chance to exercise their right to vote in the next general elections, but the representative of the Election Commission of Pakistan had shown inability in this regard.

He said that more than twenty thousands workers would be required to conduct this process in and outside the country. The AGP also contended that the ECP had already pointed out the difficulties being faced to enable the overseas Pakistanis opportunity to cast their vote. He further said that in order to materialise the process, permission of the Saudi government would also be required.

Justice Azmat Saeed observed that everyone understood that it was not an easy task. The chief justice also asked whether it was possible to debate this matter in parliament. Meanwhile, counsel for the applicant, Mian Abdul Rauf, told the bench that he had drafted the proposed bill for giving right of vote to overseas Pakistanis. The court, however, told him that legislation was the issue of parliament. The attorney general assured the bench that he would take up this matter with the relevant authorities soon. The bench told him do this as early as possible because the assembly would be dissolved after March 15. The hearing of the case has been adjourned until March 11.



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