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Voting rights to overseas Pakistanis in next general elections

A very large number of Pakistanis are working in China and Hong Kong and they have been given right to elect the best candidate in the government and for the country

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Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government’s landmark decision of giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis in the next general elections has kindled a great enthusiasm among members of the Pakistani community in China who have termed the new law as a historic initiative.

The decision of giving right to vote to the overseas Pakistanis approved by the Federal Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Information and Broadcasting Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain announced in Islamabad.

Dr Sajid Khurshid, a Pakistani expatriate living in Beijing for more than 17 years while commenting on the initiative said, “I personally believe that this is really a historic step taken by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, and it was indeed requirement for the Pakistanis who are working abroad. And it’s really a great news for all of us those who are working here in China.”

Read more: Overseas Pakistanis voting: what are the prospects and pitfalls?

A very large number of Pakistanis are working in China and Hong Kong and they have been given right to elect the best candidate in the government and for the country, he said in an interview with APP on Thursday.

Dr Sajid who is teaching in an international school in the Chinese capital and also a visiting faculty at China’s top Tsinghua University, suggested that all the stakeholders in Pakistan including opposition parties should support the government’s decision.

Welcoming the government for its visionary move, Abdullah Afridi, a textile-trader living in Keqiao, Zhejiang province, China since 2003, observed that Prime Minister Imran Khan after assuming his office has taken several concrete steps for the welfare of expatriate Pakistanis.

“The grant of voting right to overseas Pakistanis is not only a good news but also a very important and historic achievement of the PTI government,” he added.

He said the decision of giving voting rights is bold step and it would allow them to elect their favourite candidate in the general elections in the country.

“Pakistani citizens consider the move helpful for enhancing their interest in country’s affairs as they will be able to take part in the political activities,” he added.

Abdullah Afridi also appreciated the government for looking after the Pakistani community particularly businessmen, traders and students across China through the embassy and consulates during Covid-19 pandemic.

President of Pakistan-China Medical Association, Dr Muhammad Shahbaz presently living in Beijing has been staying in several western countries during last 16 years said millions of Pakistanis are working abroad as professionals and holding high positions there. They are contributing to the national economy through remittances every year but they could not elect candidates of their choice during the elections.

He appreciated the government for this historic move and suggested to make the entire e-voting mechanism in a manner that could ensure transparent voting process.

Read more: PTI govt launches ‘Yaran-e-Watan program’ for overseas professionals

Another expatriate, Ali Imran, a research fellow at a Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China termed the decision a historic move taken by the Pakistan government to give voting rights to expatriates.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has fulfilled another longstanding demand of the Pakistanis living abroad, and also appreciated the move directing Pakistani mission to provide better facilities to expatriate Pakistanis all over the world.

He said the prime minister who himself has been living abroad for many years is well aware of the difficulties and demands of overseas Pakistanis. The voting rights to expatriate Pakistanis is a very historic move and a step in the right direction, he added.

Zoon Ahmed Khan, a researcher, moderator and expert on international affairs who is living in Beijing for several years lauded initiative approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan. She said engaging Pakistani diaspora globally is very important as they in a big way contribute to economic development of the country.

Read more: Overseas Pakistanis to get inheritance certificates abroad through biometrics

“Expatriate Pakistanis are key stakeholders and have also stepped up when Pakistan was facing dire situation during Covid-19 pandemic,” she added.

She emphasized that allowing the overseas Pakistanis to vote is recognition of their contributions and it can pave the path for deeper engagement and better representation in the future.

“How we test our diaspora will greatly determine Pakistan’s journey towards development and prosperity,” she added.

Expressing happiness over the decision, another Pakistani Muhammad Humayun expressed his confidence into the able leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and said the government would complete the required legislation as early as possible and devise a

mechanism enabling the overseas Pakistani to exercise their right to vote in the next general elections in a free and transparent manner. He said in the past, different political leaders have been making tall claims but they miserably failed to fulfill promises during their tenures.

Courtesy: APP

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