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Pakistanis set to cast ballot

PAKISTANIS living in Bahrain and neighbouring Gulf countries will cast their vote for the first time next month to elect their National Assembly.

Around 40,000 eligible voters in the country are expected to head to the ballot box at the Pakistan Embassy in Hoora for the May 11 national elections.

Pakistan's two major political parties - Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Sharif Group - will contest the poll to elect members of the National Assembly, including parliament, and the four Provincial Assemblies. The elected members from the provincial assemblies will work under the federal government.

It follows last week's decision by the Election Commission of Pakistan to allow overseas Pakistanis in the Gulf, US, UK and 11 other countries the right to vote.

The embassy here is working to complete formalities and has urged its nationals to abide by electoral guidelines, which would be issued soon.

"This is the first time that overseas Pakistanis will have the right to vote and all the arrangements are in the pipeline," said embassy community welfare officer Maqsood Qadir Shah.

Mr Shah said their nationals will be asked to submit the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistani and machine readable passport to be eligible to vote.

A computerised polling station will be set up, which will confirm a voter's identity by matching their fingerprint with Pakistan's national database and registration authority's record.

"Once all this planned process is complete, the voter will see a list of candidates from his constituency electronically to choose from," explained Mr Shah.

"We are now waiting for the final decision with all the details so that the embassy can issue guidelines for our nationals in Bahrain as we are looking forward to assist them in exercising their rights."

Mr Shah said the embassy will also co-ordinate with the Interior Ministry to provide adequate security measures on election day.

"We will notify the Interior Ministry to provide us with security to ensure a smooth electoral process," he said. For more information contact the embassy on 17241113. sandy@gdn.com.bh



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