Voting rights for  overseas Pakistanis

There is a constitutional requirement which makes it mandatory that secrecy of ballot paper and its security must be ensured. Recent hackings of high security institutions like the Pentagon, State Department etc. exposes loopholes in the internet-based systems. All citizens of Pakistan residing within and outside the country have the right to cast their vote in free and fair elections conducted by ECP. However, it must be understood that national security and state sovereignty are sacrosanct and should never be compromised. Logistics in countries like the USA which comprise over 50 states with 4 contiguous time zones is a hurdle, except perhaps in NYC or Houston etc. where our consulates exist.

The recent hacking of high-security institutions including the Pentagon etc. has exposed loopholes in the otherwise smooth flow of information technology via the internet. The sanctity of the vote cast by overseas Pakistanis via the internet from their homes cannot be assured.

This right of vote for overseas Pakistanis cannot be given to those who have on oath pledged that they “absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any state, or sovereignty, of whom, or which, I have heretofore been a subject or citizen” and has further sworn to “support and defend the constitution and laws” of his newly adopted country. Such an oath binds the individual to “bear arms on behalf of the USA against all enemies, foreign or domestic” and also a pledge to “perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the US when required by the law”. The Patriot Act passed by US Congress binds all American citizens to this oath with severe punishment for individuals and his/her family if they fail to perform as per their pledge. If they want to vote they must pledge a fresh oath of loyalty to Pakistan.



ePaper - Nawaiwaqt