ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said voting rights to overseas Pakistanis provided through Wednesday’s legislation would not only enrich their importance but also enable them to keep a check on the government using their voting power.
“Every government will be compelled to value overseas Pakistanis because (now) they can vote. When they will vote, they will elect a government which will ease their lives,” he said addressing the launching ceremony of a portal to help expatriates digitally verify their power of attorney.
In a democratic system, voters can keep a check on their government through their votes, the premier highlighted.
He said with around nine million overseas Pakistanis, the governments would be forced to value them duly.
The premier said legislation on the use of EVMs in elections was made possible as National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) made it easier to ensure elections using the latest technology.
He said as the technology had changed the world altogether, “its non-usage would be nothing but a silly approach”.
PM Imran Khan recalled that the Election Commission in 2008 and a judicial commission in 2015 had also recommended the use of EVMs to ensure transparent elections.
He said that those desiring to take advantage of the old system “will never let change come in”.
The premier also mentioned the resistance faced by the government from within the Utility Stores and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) when it tried to automate its working to bring in transparency.
He told the people present at the ceremony that the government would launch a track and trace system by next week which was made possible after huge efforts and would help ascertain actual figures of production. “Such a system would discourage tax evasion and keep a proper check on major businesses like cement, sugar and cigarettes,” he said.
“EVMs are functional across the world and could address all of the election-related issues in Pakistan,” he said.
The prime minister said around 1.5 million votes were rejected in the last elections which could have been saved with the use of EVMs. EVMs will also help do away with the practice of fake votes, he added.
PM Imran Khan said the incumbent government also called for an open ballot in the Senate election as a secret ballot involved a large amount of money.
He said that both the PPP and PML-N opposed the move despite the fact that the PTI had no benefit to reap from the open ballot.
Referring to the opposition’s criticism on legislation in a joint session of the parliament, he said ”yesterday’s drama” was meant to stop overseas Pakistanis from voting.
The prime minister said the PTI government had fulfilled its promise of granting voting rights to expatriates and reiterated his government’s resolve to bring more ease to their lives.
The prime minister recalled that the process of developing the portal for digital verification of power of attorney was initiated after an overseas Pakistani from Greece highlighted the issue.
He said earlier, around 75,000 expatriates had to travel to Pakistan for the purpose and go through a cumbersome process.
The prime minister repeatedly lauded the overseas Pakistanis for their contribution to the national economy with $30 billion in remittances.
“Unfortunately, past governments could not tap the potential of overseas Pakistanis who value their country more and have supported the country in times of distress,” he said.
The prime minister said that the country would not have required any facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or loans had it properly tapped the potential of overseas Pakistanis.
He said that due to corrupt systems and practices, overseas Pakistanis had to face losses.
The premier said the foreign ministry had directed embassies, particularly in Saudi Arabia and UAE, to facilitate Pakistani workers who would also be able to directly highlight their issue at the recently launched Foreign Minister’s Portal Pakistan (FM Portal).