ECP to ensure voting rights to overseas Pakistanis: SC

After dismissing Dr Tahirul Qadri’s petition due to his Canadian citizenship, the Supreme Court of Pakistan passed on the instructions to ensure voting rights to overseas Pakistanis in the upcoming elections. On Thursday, the SC urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to discuss the matter with the Ministries of Interior and Overseas Pakistanis. The Election Commission will submit a mechanism for the purpose by Feb 22.

While discussing the options, the possibility of converting the Pakistani missions abroad into polling stations was also considered. The court learned that material including complete voters’ list and ballot papers of 272 constituencies across Pakistan would have to be sent out to each Pakistani mission abroad. Another option was the early enrolment of all overseas voters who will submit sealed ballot papers to the missions on the Election Day.

The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the Ministries of Overseas Pakistanis and Interior were instructed to facilitate the ECP through the process. The SC also urged to gear up the process of issuing National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP).

On the other hand, Dr Qadri has decided not to challenge court’s verdict; however, he emphasized that the Supreme Court has not ever refused to entertain the petition of a dual national in the last four decades.

Dr Qadri said: “I went to the court in the capacity of a common citizen, only to prove that the existing ECP is illegal and unconstitutional… The only thing I objected on is attitude of the court, but still I respect the Supreme Court and will continue to strive for the bright future of Pakistan and Pakistanis.”

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