Pakistan to avoid beginning new projects, rules out overseas i-voting in upcoming polls

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Azam Nazeer Tarar, Pakistan’s law minister, stated on Tuesday that overseas Pakistanis would not be able to vote online in the upcoming elections, ruling out the possibility of any amendments to the election laws to this effect. This was done to avoid starting any pilot projects, according to Dawn.

“Overseas Pakistanis willing to vote have the right to do so, but since the committee’s report and the Supreme Court’s report stated that internet voting was not possible, pilot projects will not be allowed,” he said while speaking to the media after an in-camera meeting of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms.

The committee has been meeting for days to discuss proposed changes to the election regulations as the government prepares to give over control of the nation to a caretaker arrangement in August, Dawn reported.

Dawn is one of the Pakistan dailies that reports on Social, Political, Economical issues in the country.

Though the draft of dozens of last-minute amendments is secret as of yet, sources say the focus of amendments is on transparency and credible results. A number of amendments to the Elections Act 2017 have been suggested to ensure the timely submission of election results.

Meanwhile, internet voting or i-voting for overseas Pakistanis has been a longstanding issue of contention between the incumbent Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government and the opposition PTI, Dawn reported.

The previous PTI government had made multiple amendments to the Election Act, 2017, including those that allowed the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and granted overseas Pakistanis the right to vote electronically in general elections.

The amendments were bulldozed through a National Assembly session in 2021 amid fervent protest by the-then opposition.

But in May this year, the National Assembly led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022, which sought to remove the use of EVMs in general elections as well as disallow overseas Pakistanis from voting electronically, Dawn reported.

The bill was returned by President Arif Alvi unsigned and was eventually signed into law by then-acting president Sadiq Sanjrani in June.

During this time, PTI chief Imran Khan approached the Supreme Court to challenge amendments to the Elections Act, 2017.

Tarar also shared with the media that the final report of the committee would be made public by Thursday.

He also clarified that the amendments proposed to the laws were aimed at filling the gaps in the election process and “making the system more transparent”.

On Tuesday, Tarar said Grand Democratic Alliance’s Fehmida Mirza had made some recommendations during the session. 

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