LAHORE: In a landmark development on Friday overseas Pakistanis were given the right to vote for the first time.
The Election Commission of Pakistan informed the Supreme Court that the electoral body has developed a mechanism with the help from National Database Registration Authority (Nadra).
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar congratulated the Pakistanis living abroad and remarked that their right to vote has been accepted and now they can exercise their right to franchise.
The CJP thanked the ECP and Nadra for the system and directed the officials to make a comprehensive plan for its use under the law.
A three-member bench was hearing case pertaining to extending the right to overseas Pakistanis.
Election Commission Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad told the apex court on previous hearing that an operational plan of E-voting was completed in collaboration with Nadra. Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that Article 94 of Election Act was mentioned in the operational plan which is uncertain at right to vote.
Babar Yaqoob said E-voting will be conducted on experimental basis in the upcoming bye-elections while the results would be furnished before the Parliament. The Parliament in the light of experience will ascertain future of E-voting. Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that whether the votes through E-voting could be kept separate from the other votes.
Meanwhile, Attorney General said the court order was regarding law of electoral list but it was removed in the Election Act. Babar Yaqoob said that right of oversees Pakistanis to exercise right of vote was discussed in the parliamentary committee whereas the opinion was different. He said bye-elections were to be held on 27 constituencies.
The chief justice remarked that all the constituencies should experience E-voting and no constituency will witness discrimination. Justice Ijazul Ahsan said it would be easy to identify fake votes.
The chief justice observed that results in all four provinces will be apparent and if there would be any mistake in E-voting then the votes will be discarded. If the E-voting system not gets hacked then votes of oversees Pakistanis will be included in the results.
“We don’t want any confusion and ruin the bye-elections as it cost millions in each constituency,” he added. Meanwhile, PTI’s counsel Anwar Masood Khan argued that the ECP has the right to formulate code of conduct in the light of Constitution. The ECP has the right to publish the rolls. It also reserves right to give decisions on complaints.