Mian Owais Anjum, PTI president in Dubai (second from right), talking to media at a reception in Dubai.

Dubai: Pakistani expatriates in the UAE have demanded their government to restore their voting rights to enable them participate in the next elections.

The call comes after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government passed a bill in the National Assembly scrapping the use of electronic voting machines (EVMS) and the right to vote for overseas Pakistanis using the electronic means. However, overseas Pakistanis can still vote but they will have to travel to Pakistan, as was the case in the past.

“We want the government to review its decision and restore the voting rights for overseas Pakistanis,” said Mian Owais Anjum, a prominent businessman and president of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Dubai.

Talking to media at a reception he hosted on Tuesday for PTI office-bearers in the UAE, Anjum said overseas Pakistanis should be allowed to vote from their respective countries of residence abroad using the electronic voting machines. “It is not fair at all to deprive them from the right to vote while living abroad. They have the right to be part of democratic process to elect their leaders in the next general elections,” he noted.

Read More

Backbone of Pakistan’s economy

He said that 9 million Pakistani expats are the backbone of their country’s economy as they remitted around $30 billion during the last fiscal year of 2020-2021. This figure is expected to cross $32 billion this year. Overseas Pakistanis residing in the UAE and Saudi Arabia top the list of remitters as they sent $3 billion and $4 billion, respectively, during the first half of fiscal year 2021-22

The PTI government led by Imran Khan had made multiple amendments to the Election Act, 2017, on November 17, 2021, including granting overseas Pakistanis the right to vote electronically and the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in general elections.

However, on May 26, the PML-N-led coalition government passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the National Assembly, revoking all amendments made by the previous government, scrapping the use of EVMs and the right to vote for overseas Pakistanis.

Asif Zaman, general secretary of the PTI in UAE and Mian Owais Anjum, PTI president in Dubai talking to PTI members and media at a reception in Dubai. Image Credit:

Avoid rallies in UAE

Anjum also requested the PTI supporters living in the UAE to avoid taking part in any protest or rallies in the emirates as the UAE laws do not permit any such political activities. “You can support your leaders back home but please respect the UAE laws and refrain from participating in any protests,” he reiterated, while referring to reports of some rallies staged by some PTI supporters in the UAE soon after their leader Imran Khan was removed as prime minister in April. “Our official PTI body and members were not involved in any such activities in the UAE. Those were some sporadic rallies by some workers who support Imran Khan,” he said, adding that he and his party workers have also released social media messages urging all such workers to avoid such activities in future.

Senior PTI members including Asif Zaman, Saqlain Mehro, Aziz Khattak, Fahim Baig, Aadil Malik, Chaudhry Javed Iqbal, Atiqur Rehman, Azizullah Malangi, Humaira and Saira Khan also expressed the smiliar views urging community members to respect the local laws. “We will go also reach out to various community groups and the workers’ accommodations to educate the community on the importance of following the UAE laws while living in the country. We have already started creating awareness amongst the community through social media,” said Asif Zaman, general secretary of the PTI-UAE.