Overseas Pakistanis to vote in 2018 elections, confirms NADRA

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Staff Report

Islamabad – It looks like overseas Pakistanis for the first time will be able to take part in the forthcoming elections this year as the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has confirmed the readiness of the software in this regard by April this year.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday appreciated efforts made by the NADRA and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) towards the development of a voting system that can empower overseas Pakistanis with the ability to vote in general elections.

Presided over by the chief justice, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court was hearing a case combining 16 petitions on the matter that it had accepted on January 5.

The petitions, filed by civilians, had appealed that the state set up appropriate infrastructure so that overseas Pakistanis — estimated to number at least eight million — can cast their vote in Pakistan’s elections.

During Monday’s hearing, NADRA Chairman Usman Mobin told the court that “the matter has been brought under discussion with the ECP.”

“Work is underway on the software’s development,” he said. “It can be tested on an experimental basis in mock elections and will be ready by the start of April.”

At this, the chief justice said: “This is a very good news given by NADRA’s chairman. He has given a very reasonable 10-week deadline.”

“NADRA and the ECP should sit together and give overseas Pakistanis the gift of voting ability,” he added, while instructing NADRA to furnish in court a progress report during the case’s next hearing in a month’s time.