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NA passes bill disallowing overseas Pakistanis to vote, scraps use of EVMs

The bill has bulldozed PTI’s 2021 legislation giving overseas Pakistanis the right to vote in general elections through a voting device.

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The National Assembly on Thursday passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022, which disallows overseas Pakistanis from voting and denies the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the general election.

The bill was presented by Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs.

At the Assembly session, Federal Minister of Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar said holding polls using EVMs on a single day is “impossible.”

He said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) could not hold elections through EVMs in such a short period without homework.

Read more: Depolarizing electronic voting machines (EVMs)

He said the bill would revive the Elections Act 2017, enabling the ECP to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections.

Tarar expressed concerns about the misuse of technology, saying that the Results Transmission System (RTS) had failed in the 2018 elections to favour a particular political party.

Before presenting the bill, Abbasi extended a motion for allowing the bill to be sent directly to the Senate for its approval instead of approval from the relevant standing committee first.

The Assembly also passed this motion with the majority.

Read more: Overseas Pakistanis: Hail, the new Kingmakers

According to Dawn News, the bill is expected to be sent to the Senate tomorrow.

It has been suggested that reserved seats should be introduced for the Pakistani diaspora and the matter was sent to a standing committee for a final nod.

In November 2021, the former PTI government passed two crucial amendments to the Elections Act 2017 related to EVMs and overseas voters.

It said the Supreme Court had ordered giving the right to vote to the Pakistani diaspora but the electoral body has utterly failed in doing so.