National IDs….

This issue continues to be debated even in the U.S., with the Supreme Court holding arguments on this last month. Nevertheless, every citizen of Pakistan must be allowed to vote….

Bengali, Burmese residents fight for right to vote

Staff Report

KARACHI: Six Pakistanis of Bangladeshi and Burmese origin are fighting for the right to vote in the February 18 general elections by going to the Sindh High Court with a petition.

The petitioners include the Awami Himayat Tehreek Pakistan (formerly Pervez Musharraf Himayat Tehreek Pakistan) chief organiser Maulana Muhammad Ibrahim Khalil and members Abdul Karim, Abdul Qadir, Noor Chaman, Sinwara Begum, Sona Ali. They argue that they are all residents and registered voters of constituency NA-242. They maintain that they possess all the right documents, including a National Identity Card (NIC), but will not be allowed to cast their vote as the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has declined to issue them Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs).

The petitioners have also argued that their names exist on the electoral rolls and that they have completed all formalities, including making the payment for the CNIC fee. They also argued that they had been living in Karachi before Bangladesh came into existence and some of them have even been born in Karachi.

To back up their argument, the petitioners gave the example of the Presidential Referendum of 2001 held by President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf that maintains that he ordered as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) that all individuals living in the territory of Pakistan were declared eligible to cast their votes irrespective of the fact that they did not have a national identity cards i.e. old or computerized NICs or whether their names were on the voter lists or not.

The petitioners requested the SHC to declare that NADRA was bound to issue them and other citizens CNICs or the new ID cards, direct the election commission of Pakistan and the provincial election commission to waive the condition that their names need to be on the voter list.

The bench heard these initial arguments and issued notices to the commissions, NADRA and the SP of the Bangladeshi Registration Cell for Thursday, Feb 14.

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