On Thursday, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the Election Amendment Bill, 2022, which bans the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and prevents overseas Pakistanis from voting in the country’s general elections.
After the resignations of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, the federal cabinet approved the bill for submission to the NA on Tuesday, and it was passed with a majority in an assembly with no real opposition.
Murtaza Javed Abbasi, the Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, presented the bill in the assembly.
Azam Nazeer Tarar, the Federal Minister for Law, said during the debate that the bill was extremely important.
He claimed that the PTI government had amended the Election Act of 2017, including provisions allowing the use of electronic voting machines and granting overseas Pakistanis the right to vote in general elections.
Raja Riaz, the NA’s Opposition Leader, previously stated that electronic voting would be a failure because some areas of the country still lack internet access.
Ghous Bakhsh Mehr, a GDA lawmaker, said that EVMs were being used around the world and that Pakistan should at least try them.
“Use them in selected areas if not the whole country,” he said.
Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) said his party had opposed the bill during the previous government’s tenure.
“It would have been better if the commission had been given more authority,” he said, adding that party leaders should be called to testify on the bill.
On November 17, 2021, the PTI government passed an amendment bill allowing for the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and giving expats the right to vote in a joint session of Parliament, despite vehement opposition.
Babar Awan, the then-adviser to the prime minister on parliamentary affairs, had introduced the bill to amend the 2017 Elections Act. With 221 votes in favor and 203 votes against, the motion to table the electoral reforms bill was approved.