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Shortage of resources a hurdle in giving right to vote to expats: LHC told

ECP Secretary tells LHC EVMs are fit but experimental; evaluation is still underway

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday informed the Lahore High Court the right to vote could not be given to overseas Pakistanis due to a shortage of resources as a huge amount of Rs2.5 billion is required for the electronic voting system.

Justice Shujaat Ali Khan of the LHC was hearing the case filed by Advocate Azhar Siddique and others seeking directives for the ECP to give the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis.

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As the hearing commenced, the ECP Secretary appeared before the court and submitted that they had insufficient resources for ensuring the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis. He said they had written to the ministry of finance for the funds for internet and Electronic Voter Machines.

The court asked him what steps were taken by the government and the national assembly. The judge observed that the government or ECP were making excuses for something they simply did not wish to do.

On it, the secretary said they were introducing a new technology but the issue was that they lacked the relevant technology experts. He said the machines were fit for voting but the voters were not familiar with their use. He said there were technical reports as well before the ECP and the phase of experimental evaluation was still on going.

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Justice Khan remarked that, “overseas Pakistanis send 25 billion rupees to the country and it will be really bad if they are deprived of their right to vote,”

He further remarked that it was a serious matter but nobody was bothering to take it seriously.

“ECP told the court that NADRA was not doing anything,” remarked Justice Khan, seeking a report from Director General National Database and Registration Authority on the next date of hearing.

After hearing lengthy arguments, Justice Khan sought reports from ECP and others and adjourned further hearing till May 24.

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