The Election Commission of Pakistan has been evincing enterprise in tapping dormant segments of society that were hitherto considered expendables. One such section is the prisoners who would now be given a chance to participate in the democratic process through postal ballot.
Although this is a welcome step, it is obvious that it comes with the caveat of the rigging; the possibility of the jail staff either coaxing or coercing the jailbirds into voting the contestant of their choice is obvious and so caution would be required.
The other segment pertains to the overseas Pakistanis, whose calibre and number are two factors that in view of the Supreme Court makes them quite crucial to the electoral process. They should be given a chance to participate, the Supreme Court keeps saying. The previous government’s Attorney General Irfan Qadir explained to the apex court the tremendous challenges in making that possible.
One such hurdle, he told was the number of expatriates in Saudi Arabia alone which he said was 1.5 million, which would require hundreds of polling booths and officials. These are excuses. There is the e-balloting system that can be arranged or the expatriates made to cast their votes at their respective consulates. Hence, it all boils down to the will, which seems to be lacking here. Overseas Pakistanis are a necessary ingredient to make the polls more representative.