Ordinance for polling abroad promulgated
ISLAMABAD: Just a couple of days before the general elections, President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday approved and signed an ordinance to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes from abroad, but only in the next elections.
The Electoral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 has been signed by President Zardari on the advice of caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, said President’s Spokesman Farhatullah Babar in a statement.
The ordinance, however, has been promulgated very late and according to a spokesman for the law ministry, it will be applicable in the next elections and not in the coming elections being held on Saturday.
In a statement, the ministry’s spokesman clarified that the ordinance had been issued in pursuance of the orders of the Supreme Court seeking some plausible steps to ensure the representation of the overseas Pakistanis in the general elections. He said the ordinance contained a provision that it would take effect when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) would notify it.
He further said that despite best efforts and intentions, the arrangements could not be made for the voting of overseas Pakistanis in 17 countries for the May 11 elections.
He said that after extensive deliberations between the ECP and the interim government, it was realised that all arrangements to the satisfaction of all the political parties and all the host countries were not possible to be made within the short period of time available. The interim government, he said, had already communicated its viewpoint to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, giving salient features of the ordinance, Mr Babar said the ordinance provided that “the ECP at least 14 days before the day fixed for poll abroad shall establish polling stations with as many polling booths as may be necessary in the premises of an embassy, a mission or a consulate provided that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has obtained consent of the host countries for establishment of the polling stations.”
The ordinance further says that an overseas Pakistani not later than 10 days before the day fixed for poll abroad, register himself as an elector in the embassy, mission or consulate where he intends to cast his vote.
To ensure the conduct of free, fair and transparent poll, the ECP shall appoint as many independent monitors as necessary at a polling station abroad, the ordinance says.
Mr Babar said the ordinance would come into force immediately, “but shall take effect on the date or dates to be notified by the ECP in the official gazette”.