electoral reforms

NA passes Election Act Amendment Bill, grants voting right to overseas Pakistanis

Election Act Amendment Bill

The National Assembly (NA) has passed the Election Act Amendment Bill, 2020, which contains dozens of amended articles aimed at bringing electoral reforms, including the ability to vote for Pakistanis living abroad. 

The modified Elections Act, 2017, proposed by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, was adopted by the Lower House. 

The Election Act Amendment Bill, 2020, has hundreds of amended articles aimed at bringing electoral reforms to overseas Pakistanis’ voting rights, the open ballot for Senate elections, the usage of electronic voting machines (EVMs), and other parts to guarantee transparent and fair elections. 

The bill had already passed the NA Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, chaired by Mujahid Ali, but opposition members objected, calling it “legislation in haste.” 

Dr Babar Awan congratulated foreign nationals on gaining the right to vote after 73 years, in a Twitter message. The updated election bill was enacted by the National Assembly. 

He chastised opposition legislators for boycotting the vote on the modified electoral measure. Dr. Awan further stated that the measure will be introduced to the Senate in order to allow abroad Pakistanis the right to vote. 

‘Govt undermines the role of Parliament in passing Election Act Amendment Bill’

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, head of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), accused the federal administration for taking away the opposition’s right to discuss on the policy. He claimed that the election manipulation bill was rammed through the lower house, along with a slew of other laws. 

During the session, opposition legislators stormed out, accusing the chair of improperly conducting the National Assembly session. Qadir Patel has indicated that he will boycott the NA session and would file a no-confidence resolution against the speaker. 

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, and Financial Institutions (Secured Transactions) Amendment Bill were also passed by the National Assembly. 

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