Dual-national overseas Pakistanis can’t vote anymore

Khan’s government in November 2021 had allowed overseas Pakistanis (including dual nationals) to cast their ballot: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led ruling alliance is all set to undo the provision introduced by the previous government allowing dual-nationality holder overseas Pakistanis the right of vote. A bill in this regard was moved in the National Assembly by dissident Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Assembly lawmaker Noor Alam Khan to amend the Elections Act 2017. The bill seeks deletion of the provision that conditionally allows dual nationals to contest elections or vote. While introducing the bill in the House, the lawmaker said the country’s law did not provide any such right to the dual national overseas Pakistanis who have pledged their allegiance to their host countries. said he was not against granting voting rights to overseas Pakistanis with Pakistani citizenship but wanted to withdraw this right from the overseas Pakistanis with dual citizenship.

Former Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, whose Awami Muslim League (AML) is a close ally of the PTI, warned the government of Shehbaz Sharif of serious consequences if the overseas Pakistanis were deprived of their right of vote. “I would challenge the bill in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and would take the case of the overseas Pakistanis to every forum,” said Sheikh Rashid.

PTI has a strong political base among the overseas Pakistanis and from the day since Khan was ousted, overseas Pakistanis in Europe, America and elsewhere have been staging protests and holding rallies in his support. The Pakistani diaspora is one of the largest immigrant populations in the world (9m+) and sends remittances worth billions of dollars every month back home. In 2020-21 alone, they sent a record $29.4 billion back home hence playing a leading role in boosting the country’s foreign currency reserves. Source: Gulf News

COMMENT: “More than politics and democracy, remittances from dual nationals have also been contributing toward the stability of the country’s economy. So a second look at the proposed bill on bipartisan basis may be a prudent step. After all, democratic countries in the Anglosphere do not differentiate or weigh allegiance of dual nationals on their right to vote at home or abroad,” an observer tells DesPardes.