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Sunday 5 July 2020

Pakistan to allow dual nationals to contest elections

Imran Khan has issued directives to the relevant ministries as well as to the ECP to come up with a comprehensive programme for giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis

Islamabad: The Pakistan government has decided to allow Pakistanis with dual nationalities to contest elections as Prime Minister Imran Khan wants them to be part of the country’s political system, according to his top aide. The Cabinet discussed the issue on Thursday after the return of Khan from his first official visit to the US, according to Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan.

Prime Minister Khan wants dual national Pakistanis to become part of the country’s political system, Awan told he Dawn newspaper. He has set up a high-powered committee comprising officials from the ministries to suggest ways for making overseas Pakistanis legislators so that they could contribute to the country’s economy, the report said.

Awan said the Cabinet had discussed the voting rights and the mechanism to allow the overseas Pakistanis to become Members of Parliament. Khan has the vision to utilise the talent and resources of overseas Pakistanis and dual nationals. Therefore, he had set up a committee representing ministries of foreign affairs, interior, parliamentary affairs and overseas Pakistanis to suggest a mechanism to remove hurdles in the way of dual nationals becoming legislators, she said.

Awan said Khan had issued directives to the relevant ministries as well as to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to come up with a comprehensive programme for giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis. The ECP had started the process of registration of overseas Pakistanis as voters, but it stopped for some reasons. “Now the Prime Minister has directed the ECP and other relevant departments to restart the process of registration of overseas Pakistanis on a war footing,” she said.

The decision, if implemented, will require an amendment to the Constitution.

A debate on the issue of registration of overseas Pakistanis as voters and allowing the dual nationals to contest the elections has been going on in the country for years, but so far no solution has been found, the report said. According to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, approximately 7.6 million Pakistanis live abroad, with the vast majority, over 4 million, residing in the Middle East.

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