Asia Pacific

Pakistan opposition cries foul as parliament approves electronic voting

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 4, 2021. REUTERS/Saiyna Bashir/File Photo

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Pakistan's parliament on Wednesday passed a law allowing electronic vote counting despite furious protests from the opposition which said it had been pushed through by the government to rig the next election.

Opposition members tore up copies of the law, chanted slogans and called Khan a vote thief before walking out.

"I believe that this is the blackest day of our parliamentary history. We condemn it," the leader of the opposition in parliament, Shehbaz Sharif, said.

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The government secured 221 votes against the opposition's 203.

The government has for months been trying to pass the law that will allow overseas Pakistanis to cast their ballot online.

Prime Minister Imran Khan enjoys widespread support among some nine million Pakistanis living abroad. The next national election is scheduled for 2023.

Pakistan has a history of parties alleging vote rigging after every election. Khan believes that electronic vote counting will ensure transparency.

The opposition and many political analysts say Khan is unlikely to secure another term.

The government has been grappling with a chronic economic crisis and rising inflation is at odds with the military over the appointment of a new head of the Inter Services Intelligence spy agency.

The opposition alleges the military brought Khan to power in a rigged 2018 election, a charge both the government and the army deny, and said it would challenge the new law in court.

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Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Nick Macfie

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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