Pakistan's 80,000 prisoners denied right to vote in upcoming election

Pakistan's 80,000 prisoners denied right to vote in upcoming election

KARACHI: With the general election a few days away, candidates are busy campaigning trying to squeeze in those few extra votes that can either make it or break it for them.

However, not everyone will be voting or rather have been denied their right to vote in the July 25 election.

This faction consists of 80,000 prisoners in jail cells across the country who despite having the “right and facility” to vote will not be helping elect lawmakers for the next five years.

According to the jail manual, every inmate has the right to take part in the electoral process, with the inmates casting their vote through postal ballots and the prison administration forwarding those to the relevant presiding officers. 

However, no steps have been taken the by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure that the prisoners can vote this time around.

According to sources, in Punjab there are 49,000 prisoners including 1,000 women across 40 different prisons in the province.

In Sindh, there are 19,000 prisoners including 200 women incarcerated in 26 prisons across the province.

Moreover, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, there are 10,050 prisoners including 220 women in 23 prisons while Balochistan currently has 2,100 prisoners which include 20 women in 11 prisons across the province.

According to former Inspector General (IG) Prisons Sindh Nusrat Mangan, inmates were not given the facility to vote during the 2013 elections either, while a mere 10 prisoners cast their vote in the 2008 elections.

The former IG added the prisoners have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice by sending the sealed envelope to the presiding officers, however, they have not been briefed about the right to vote.

Mangan further stated that the process of inmates casting their vote takes place a week before the general election, however, the process has not yet taken place.

The last day to cast vote through postal ballots for July 25 elections was July 10, according to media reports.