On July 18th, National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has issued a statement that overseas Pakistanis will not be able to cast vote in forthcoming elections scheduled to be held on July 25th.
NADRA officials told Geo News that there were certain rumors being circulated that overseas Pakistanis can vote in General Elections 2018. The misleading rumours gained traction through different campaigns and social media platforms. The officials told there is no such decision made regarding the online voting facility for overseas Pakistanis.
The NADRA official said,
“Online voting for overseas Pakistanis can experiment in by-polls. However, Pakistanis abroad will have to come to the country for using their right to vote in the general election.”
NADRA further clarified that even after getting back to Pakistan only those overseas Pakistanis will be able to cast their vote who have registered data record in NADRA and their votes are registered. This means not every overseas Pakistani would be able to vote.
Earlier in March, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had said that overseas Pakistanis would be provided with the right to cast their votes in upcoming elections. He further noted that overseas Pakistanis are allowed to be part of the local elections process.
Justice Nisar said, “Overseas Pakistanis have exercised enough patience. We will provide them with the right to cast votes.”
Later in April, information technology experts also raised concerns over an e-voting software prepared by NADRA to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in elections. Nonetheless, the NADRA chairman had briefed the Supreme Court bench, officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and representatives of different political parties on the e-voting system by saying providing e-voting facility to around 7 million overseas Pakistanis would cost around PKR 150 million.
However, the case ‘to enable overseas Pakistanis’ to vote is still under the consideration of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. With less than a week left for elections to arrive, it seems highly unlikely the e-voting software will be rolled out.