Pakistan’s E-Voting Law for Diaspora: A Beginning of Election Transparency in the Country
Amid the rising controversy on the online voting process, Pakistan’s parliament passed a bill to allow almost nine million overseas Pakistanis to vote in the country’s next elections, scheduled in 2023.
The opposition parties have repeatedly blamed the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for manipulating the election process in its favor to rig the elections.
The introduction of electronic voting in a country widely blamed for holding corrupt elections is a welcoming sign for the democracy that is yet to gain a foothold in the country.
Parliament Passed Online Voting for Overseas Pakistanis: Opposition Cries Foul
The ruling PTI mentioned elections reforms in its 2018 manifesto, and its actualization three years later is believed to be one of the major achievements of the ruling elite.
However, the opposition parties, primarily Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), voiced their concerns about the law, which has the potential to overturn the country’s electrons.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan enjoys a reasonable degree of support in the country’s diaspora, who are likely to vote for him in big numbers now after getting the right to vote.
Overseas voting has been a hot-button issue in the country, with opposition parties making a narrative that it will pave the way for election-rigging for the government.
Attaining E-Voting can be the Initiation of Election Transparency in the Country
Followed by the country’s 2013 elections, Imran Khan launched a voter fraud movement in the country that soon turned in one of the biggest uprisings in the country in recent memory.
The movement turned out in a 126-day long sit-in in front of the country’s parliament that sparked much-needed debate in the country about election reforms.
Meanwhile, the country’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2017 due to the global corruption scandal Panama leaks, a decision that also raised conspiracies about the military’s influence on the judicial sector of Pakistan.
However, this episode gave Khan’s narrative a major boost, making corruption and election reform the center of his next election campaign.
After a win in 2018, he walked the talk and prosecuted many of his political rivals, accusing them of perpetuating widespread corruption in the country.
Nonetheless, his efforts were partisan in nature, as many veteran politicians belonging to his own party escaped corruption charges easily, which gave the opposition’s motto an encouragement that Khan is embracing political censorship and not eliminating corruption.
Election fraud is an everlasting issue in this country where every time the defeating party accuses the winners of receiving military support.
It is a common perception in the country that Prime Minister Imran Khan has the military’s back, which brought him to power through rigged elections, a claim that often raises many conspiracies in the country.
At any time in his rule, Khan had excessive military support, an institution that is widely believed to shape the country’s politics.
The military often picked candidates who had supported their rise to power. But the strategic organization is even in its treatment as in the last three elections of the country; three different political parties rule the country.
Pakistan’s government has started its efforts to procure Electronic Voting Machine (EVms) that will be available once the country goes to the election in 2023.
Although it is a welcome development, it must not be a tool of political maneuvering, as it will only cement the authority of voter skeptics in the country.
In countries like Pakistan that are widely impacted by cultural lag, the knowledge about the working of these EVMs is still low, which decries the need to educate the masses about its usage and efficacy.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s team has a strong social media presence, as he was the trendsetter of using digital media for political campaigns in the country.
But oftentimes, the government has failed in narrative-building efforts for its steps, for which the general public often fell victim to the opposition’s status quo and conservative narrative of not introducing electronic voting in the country.