President refuses to sign elections bill passed by parliament

Asim Yasin
Monday, Jun 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has returned without signing the Elections (Amendments) Bill 2022, passed by the joint sitting of the Parliament.

The bill pertains to use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in election and giving overseas Pakistanis right to vote. “It has been very painful to me personally, as the President of Pakistan, to not sign a bill passed by the Majlis-e-Shoora. I have not signed the Bill despite the fact that the Constitution that I uphold will make it into law,” said the statement issued by the President's House on Sunday, while quoting President Dr Arif Alvi as having said.

President Alvi said he had been pursuing the issue of EVMs and overseas Pakistanis vote right with all governments, in the parliament, as well as with the Supreme Court of Pakistan for more than a decade.

While enlisting the reasons, the President said that besides the proposed laws' regressive nature that he pointed out in detail when he referred the bill back to Parliament, he strongly believed that technology today, specially with EVMs when used judiciously, contains many solutions that reduce the impact of confusion, discord and accusations in our 'ever-marred' and challenged election processes. “Technology can also improve transparency, make elections inclusive with the vote of our overseas Pakistanis, build confidence and reduce polarisation to finally achieve our elusive dream of free and fair elections,” he added.

More than that, the president said he wants Pakistan to leapfrog into the world of tomorrow, not to solve today’s problems only through the lens and experiences of yesterday but through newer and better scientific approaches that are available, or even 'birthing’ today'.

President Arif Alvi said he did understand that it could not happen without confidence building measures across the aisles, and broad stakeholders' involvement. “Why was this not done and why the obvious was not visible to the opinion and decision makers will remain an enigma to me,” he added.

The president observed that “the present and future governments and parliaments will be facing two choices, whether to allow the past to drag Pakistan down or allow the lessons from the past and technologies of today to boost us into the bright progressive and dynamic future of Pakistan that has been our dream”.

He observed that many such decisions would continue to challenge the nation, and history showed that those who made the right decisions 'rose', and those who did not, squandered opportunities that obstructed their path to glory. Last month, the National Assembly and Senate had abolished the use of EVMs and voting right to overseas Pakistanis under the Election Amendments Bill 2022.