Voting rights were finally granted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to 3.7 million overseas Pakistanis on Tuesday. “The decision will pave the way for overseas Pakistanis to actively take part in national politics,” observed ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan. The move was immediately praised by parties across the political spectrum. Overseas Pakistanis Minister Farooq Sattar said, “This decision will enable them to become a part of Parliament, as they are sending over $11 billion in remittances (to Pakistan) per annum”. They should also be given representation on reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies, he added. “The ECP’s move is a historic step for strengthening democracy by involving more and more people in electoral process,” observed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mushahidullah Khan.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has boycotted the Azad Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly elections. The boycott comes after the Azad Kashmir Election Commission had announced the postponement of elections for three constituencies, including two in Karachi, citing security reasons and a High Court order to include names of voters who had been removed from the list.
Speaking to the media in Karachi, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar alleged that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had been pressuring the MQM to give up a Kashmir seat from one Karachi constituency. He said the government had set up polling stations in sensitive area of Karachi where MQM workers and voters could not go and vote freely.