There are approximately 9 million overseas Pakistanis living around the globe.
the significant presence of overseas Pakistanis, which includes both migrants and individuals of Pakistani descent born abroad. The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development estimates the 9 million overseas Pakistanis are primarily concentrated in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia housing the largest community of 1.9 million, followed by the UK, UAE, and the US.

There is a debate surrounding the right of overseas expatriates to vote, some advocate for this right to be limited to residents or taxpayers, while others believe that individuals should prioritize contributing to their host countries rather than involving themselves in the politics of their country of origin. It highlights that many countries are experiencing significant labor outflows, with Pakistan being a major contributor to this trend as its citizens seek work abroad.

A comprehensive data analysis spanning from 1971 to 2023 that provides insights into the patterns of overseas Pakistanis. It emphasizes Saudi Arabia as a favored destination for Pakistani emigrants, followed closely by the UAE, and also notes Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain as notable hosts. While the Middle East remains a primary destination, other countries like South Korea, Malaysia, and China have attracted Pakistani professionals seeking diverse opportunities, reflecting changing global dynamics and evolving skillsets. Migration has significantly impacted Pakistan’s socio-economic landscape, with millions seeking better job prospects abroad. Over more than four decades, a comprehensive dataset has tracked the fluctuating numbers of Pakistani emigrants registering for overseas employment.

The complexities of overseas voting’s impact on political representation. Overseas voters bring diverse perspectives but might lack comprehensive knowledge of local issues, potentially leading to uninformed decisions. Their loyalty to the country’s affairs is questioned due to their absence. Financial contributions and potential influence raise concerns. Yet, their presence enriches discourse and international partnerships. Challenges include their potential susceptibility to manipulation and logistical complexities. Elections can be influenced significantly, affecting outcomes. Policy dynamics may change as politicians consider overseas voters’ concerns.

Overseas voters bring both opportunities and challenges to a country’s political landscape. Their impact on general elections varies based on factors such as their numbers, geographical distribution, and level of engagement. While they can contribute economically and enrich political discourse, concerns about their connection to local issues and the potential distortion of political representation remains valid. Balancing their participation with the interests of resident citizens is crucial in ensuring fair and informed democratic processes.

Whilst examining the data province-wise, the province of Punjab’s consistent prominence as the primary source of overseas migration from Pakistan. It emphasizes that Punjab leads in contributing to the workforce that migrates abroad, driven by its demographic size, economic conditions, and people’s aspirations. Over the years, Punjab has consistently registered the highest number of emigrants seeking foreign employment, showcasing its dominant position in this phenomenon. Other provinces like Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan follow, indicating varying participation in the overseas job market.

Despite Punjab’s dominance, emigrants from other provinces also seek international employment, reflecting a widespread desire for global opportunities. The experience gained by these workers abroad contributes to cross-cultural understanding and skills improvement upon their return to Pakistan. Punjab’s higher literacy rate equips its workforce to explore global job markets and adapt to diverse work environments. Early Punjab migrants often inspire and guide their communities, establishing networks that influence migration decisions.

Punjab’s leadership in overseas migration has significant implications for both the province and the entire country. The decision of Pakistani emigrants to seek opportunities abroad is influenced by economic, social, and personal factors. Punjab’s consistent prominence underscores its aspirations and readiness to embrace global prospects.

The share of university-educated professionals leaving the country increased from 1.2pc in 2011 to 6.5pc in 2023.

Remittances play a crucial role of in Pakistan’s economy, boosting foreign reserves and raising living standards for recipient families. Key remittance sources, with the USA and the UK contributing $238.1 million and $305.7 million, respectively, in 2023. The Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia ($486.7 million) and the UAE ($315.1 million), remains instrumental in Pakistan’s remittances, including Dubai’s substantial portion at $244.1 million. Other GCC countries and EU nations also contribute significantly, emphasizing the widespread impact of the Pakistani diaspora.

These remittances from various countries emphasize the global reach of Pakistan’s diaspora and its influence on the nation’s financial landscape. The State Bank of Pakistan’s data highlights how these contributions bolster financial stability, helping Pakistan navigate economic challenges and thrive amid a constantly changing global environment.

Country Remittance Amount (in millions USD)
USA $238.1
UK $305.7
Saudi Arabia $486.7
UAE (Total) $315.1
UAE (Dubai) $244.1
GCC Countries $228.3
EU Countries $283.6


It is important to acknowledge the positive impact of labor migration on the Pakistani economy. The remittances sent by overseas Pakistani emigrants help in stabilizing the economy and supporting families back home. Pakistani emigrants seeking opportunities abroad has been a significant phenomenon in the country’s socio-economic landscape.

Overseas voting rights around the world show that in an increasingly interconnected world, the concept of citizenship is no longer confined to geographical boundaries. As individuals move abroad for education, work, or other reasons, the question of their political participation in their home countries arises. Many nations recognize the significance of engaging their overseas citizens in the democratic process and have extended the right to vote to their expatriate populations.

Country Voting Rights of Citizens abroad
USA Participate in Federal Elections via absentee ballot
UK Vote in parliamentary elections if registered in the UK in the last 15 years
Turkiye Turkey allows its overseas expatriates to vote in general elections through a system known as “voting by mail” or “postal voting.”
Australia Cast votes in federal elections if registered.
Canada Vote in federal elections if a former resident of Canada


Germany Retain right to vote in federal elections, including for the Bundestag.
South Korea South Korean citizens living abroad can participate in elections through an online voting platform, enabling them to vote electronically over the internet after registering and verifying their identity..


French citizens living abroad can vote electronically through the internet in certain elections, such as presidential and legislative elections. Secure online registration and voting processes are in place.
Mexico Vote in presidential elections through embassies or consulates.
Philippines Electronically vote in national elections if a registered voter.
Portugal Vote in parliamentary elections if registered and have lived in Portugal.
Spain Vote in general elections by mail or in person at embassies or consulates.
Ireland Maintain voting rights for presidential elections and referendums if lived in Ireland within the last 18 months.

The extension of voting rights to overseas citizens reflects the recognition of their connection to their home countries and their contribution to the broader democratic process. These countries acknowledge the value of ensuring that their citizens, regardless of their geographical location, have a voice in shaping their nations’ futures.

Insights into the overseas voting rights for citizens of different countries in South Asia.

Country Voting Rights for Citizens Abroad Details
India Participate in general elections through the overseas voting scheme, casting votes in home constituencies. For Indian citizens living abroad without foreign citizenship. India has introduced an online voting platform, allowing them to register and vote electronically in elections. The platform is designed to be accessible via the internet.
Bangladesh Vote in national elections via overseas polling stations, if registered voters. Setup by the Election Commission for Bangladeshi citizens living abroad.
Sri Lanka


Vote in national elections if registered and meeting Elections Commission requirements Sri Lankan citizens living overseas can participate, subject to registration and criteria.
Nepal Participate in various elections, including parliamentary and local ones. Overseas voting process varies based on Nepal’s election laws.


Constitutionally granted voting rights to Maldivians living abroad  

Specific mechanisms for overseas voting are in development

Bhutan Currently lacks voting rights for citizens abroad, but possible extension under consideration. Bhutanese government exploring the potential of extending this right to overseas citizens
Pakistan Voting rights for overseas Pakistanis granted during PTI government, but later revoked by incoming government. Overseas Pakistani’s right to vote was given and then revoked during different governments’ tenures.


In Pakistan Elections (Second Amendment Bill), 2021 was passed on Thursday, 10th June, 2021 with a simple majority. The bill grants the right to vote to Overseas Pakistanis. The bill provided for the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the elections. The bill had authorized the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to enable Overseas Pakistanis to exercise their right to vote. The ECP is also authorized to procure EVMs for casting votes in general elections.

The incoming PDM government adopted the Election Amendment Bill, 2022, which eliminated the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and denied overseas Pakistanis the right to vote in the next general elections. They had concerns about the misuse of technology as the Results Transmission System had failed in last general elections to favor a particular political party. The then opposition argued that as per the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007, the government required a majority of the total membership of the NA and Senate to get a bill passed in a joint session, which amounts to 222 members. the government had side contended that as per Article 72 of the Constitution, it required a simple majority of the members present.

Acknowledging the importance of including overseas citizens in the democratic process, several countries in South Asia have granted voting rights to their expatriate communities. While the specifics of overseas voting rights vary by country, the overarching principle remains the same as promoting inclusivity and civic participation on a global scale.

As overseas expatriate communities are formidable contributors to a state’s ecomomy thus with consensus amongst all members of the government the right to vote to this asset is paramount.


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