Software likely to help expat Pakistanis vote

Chief Justice warns that he will sack those responsible if expatriates cannot vote

Gulf News

Karachi: The National Data and Registration Authority (NADRA), Pakistan’s prime data regulation authority on Sunday said it had developed software that could help expatriate Pakistanis cast their votes electronically.

The NADRA evolved the software to give presentation to the Supreme Court of Pakistan that was scheduled to hearing a petition regarding right to vote to overseas Pakistanis who were not entitled to vote in the national election.

The urgent software development followed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s warning on Friday of sack the officials responsible if they failed to prepare the mechanism to ensure votes for expats.

The hearing is scheduled on Monday.

Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik told local TV channel that they had developed the software and on Monday, the deadline, it would be presented in the apex court.

He further said that to make further improvement in the software, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and political parties would be consulted to make it foolproof.

The chief justice in the last hearing said the apex court would not abandon those who were assisting the country on its way to progress. He was referring to the billions of dollars of remittances the expatriate Pakistanis send back home.

The remittances enable Pakistan to make its foreign payments as it faces acute balance of payments problems because of a sharp trade deficit and its huge foreign debts.

The court also observed that it was the responsibility of the ECP to ensure the right to vote for the expatriates.

The chief justice further said expatriates must cast their votes in the upcoming elections. He suggested setting up polling stations at the Pakistani embassies so that the expats could cast their vote there.

The court also ordered to evolve a mechanism for vote casting in at least 10 such countries where Pakistanis are in large numbers. The Ministeries of Law, Overseas Pakistanis and Information Technology were told to sort out the legal and technical matters together.

More than 4.5 million expatriate Pakistanis could vote if the final approval is given.