Pakistanis living in the UAE have welcomed their Parliament’s decision to pass the bill that allows the country’s diaspora to vote for the upcoming elections.
The joint session of the Parliament on Wednesday approved the bill, amending the Elections Act, thereby, allowing the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and also granting voting rights to non-resident Pakistanis living in the UAE and other countries.
“Congratulations to our fellow overseas Pakistanis who got the right to vote through the electronic voting system. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s long struggle which is spanned over several years to get overseas Pakistani's this right to vote finally has finally been a success,” said Irfan Afsar Awan.
“It’s a great step. This will also generate interest in the country’s politics among the young people and the generations to come. I hope that now overseas Pakistanis will also take part enthusiastically in the legislation process of the country,” he added.
Out of more than nine million non-residents Pakistanis living abroad, a large chunk of them works in the Gulf region, including 1.5 million in the UAE. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are home to the country’s largest population living overseas.
Iftikhar Hamdani, who has been living abroad as a non-resident Pakistani for more than 20 years, said it’s a long-awaited demand of the country’s diaspora which has finally been fulfilled by the parliament.
“Overseas Pakistanis are massively contributing towards the country’s development in the form of foreign investments as well as remittances. We are joyful over the Parliament’s decision. I’ve been living out of the country for over two decades and have not been able to cast a vote. I am glad that I’ll have the opportunity to cast the vote while living in the UAE,” he said.
Pakistanis have been the main source of the country’s remittances. The latest data from the State Bank of Pakistan showed non-resident Pakistanis remitting $2.5 billion in October, up 10 per cent from the same month last year. This took the country’s remittances to $10.6 billion in the current fiscal year, up 12 per cent. The country’s diaspora remitted a record $29.4 billion in the 2020-21 financial year.
“Yes, this will be a great opportunity for Pakistanis living in the UAE to vote for the candidates we want to empower. We haven’t voted for quite a long time as we’re in the UAE at that the time of elections,” said Dubai-resident Hassan Shaukat.
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