NA passes bill granting voting rights to overseas Pakistanis

NA Speaker Asad Qaiser will chair the in-camera meeting. Source: FIILE.

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly (NA) has passed the Election Act Amendment Bill 2020 containing dozens of amended clauses for electoral reforms including the voting right for overseas Pakistanis.

The Lower House passed the amended Election Act, 2017 presented by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan.

The Election Act Amendment Bill 2020 contains dozens of amended clauses aiming to bring electoral reforms regarding the voting right for overseas Pakistanis, the open ballot for Senate polls, use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and other sections to ensure fair and trasnparent elections.

The bill had earlier sailed through the NA Standing Committee on Parliament Affairs chaired by Mujahid Ali. The opposition members gave their dissenting notes by calling it legislation in haste.

In a Twitter message, Dr Babar Awan has congratulated the overseas national for getting the right of voting after 73 years as the amended election bill has been passed by the National Assembly (NA) today.

He criticised the opposition lawmakers for boycotting the voting for the amended electoral bill. He added that the bill will be presented to the Senate to grant voting right for overseas Pakistanis.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari blamed the federal government for seizing the opposition’s right to carry out debate on the legislation. He alleged that the election ‘rigging’ bill was forcedly passed from the lower house besides passing many other bills as well.

During the session, the opposition lawmakers walked out of the house and accused the chair of not appropriately running the National Assembly session. PPP’s Qadir Patel announced to boycott the session and bring a no-confidence motion against the chair.

The National Assembly also passed Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Amendment Bill, 2021, Federal Medical Teaching Institute Bill, 2020, Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (​Amendment) Bill, 2021, Port Qasim Authority Act Amendment bill, 2021, the Financial Institutions (Secured Transactions) Amendment Bill.

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