CJP forms bench to hear petitions seeking voting rights for overseas Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: To the cherished desires of some eight million overseas Pakistanis to have a right to vote, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday has formed a three-member bench to hear petitions seeking voting right of the Pakistani diaspora in next General Elections 2018.

The petitions have been filed by citizens from different walks of life.

During the court proceedings Friday, CJP Mian Saqib Nisar declared the petitions admissible and formed a three-judge bench to commence hearing on the issue. The bench will take up the petitions on January 10 for hearing.

In November last year, the ECP officials informed a parliamentary committee that overseas Pakistanis will not be able to vote in the 2018 general elections.

The electoral body on Thursday had submitted a report to the National Assembly, admitting that the trial methods used by the ECP for overseas voting did not prove to be effective. It had experimented using postal ballots and tele-voting in London, Glasgow, Manchester, Bradford, Dubai, Riyadh and New York.

Earlier, the top court had been petitioned for adding the overseas Pakistanis in electoral rolls for the general election. One of such petitions had also been filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) back in 2012.

During the proceedings then, Joint Secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Syed Sher Afgan, had told the court that registering a voter in Pakistan costs two dollars – but the same exercise abroad, for listing overseas Pakistanis, would cost $30 each.

He then informed the court that bringing eight million Pakistani nationals across the world on board would be a ‘testing task’.