NA adopts Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 amid opposition protest

ISLAMABAD: Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 has been approved in the National Assembly on Monday (October 2) whilst opposition members branded it a contradiction of Article 62 and Article 63 of the constitution.

However, Law Minister Zahid Hamid tabled the bill in the National Assembly.

The bill, already passed by the Senate paves way for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to head PML-N despite the fact that he is ineligible to hold a public office following a court verdict in July leading to his disqualification.

The bill was passed amidst a ruckus as opposition lawmakers protested. The opposition lawmakers tore copies of the bill and threw them onto the speaker’s dais as he announced its passage. The president is expected to sign it into law soon.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the clause that was proposed to be added in the bill contradicted with the Article 62 and Article 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

The PTI vice chairman demanded exclusion of Section 203 in the draft. Qureshi said that the provision, if the parliament goes ahead with approving it, would be challenged in the courts.

Members of the opposition chanted slogans and protested against the proceedings of the House.

Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed too criticized the move in his speech and termed the law an attack on democracy in Pakistan. He said that the House was moving to risk democracy by mending the laws for a person. He claimed that the government was going to play with the dignity of the polls in Pakistan.

AML leader said that Pakistan has never in the history bore satisfactory results of any clash.

“The reality behind Clause 203 has been hidden from us,” Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah asid as he presented proposed amendments to the bill. He said that it was condemnable that the legislation could allow a person who had been disqualified by the Supreme Court to hold office.

Session of the assembly was previously to be convened on October 4th but it was rescheduled for October 2nd.

Earlier, the Central Executive Committee of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday has approved amendment in party constitution after which the ousted member would also be able to lead the party.

Raja Zafar-ul-Haq chaired the session at Punjab House during which, the committee unanimously accepted the amendment moved by Federal Minister of Climate Change Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan.

The participants expressed satisfaction and reaffirmed their trust on Nawaz Sharif, who was deposed by Supreme Court (SC) on July 28 in Panama Leaks case. They also paid tribute to him for his services during his four-year tenure.

Party’s interim president Senator Sardar Yaqub Nasir, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Chief Minister of Punjab (CM) Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, party’s Chief election Commissioner, Chaudhry Jafar Iqbal, Senator Asif Kirmani, former Informationa Minister Pervez Rashid, Federal Minister for Railways Kawaja Saad Rafique, provincial president Amir Muqam and others were also present on the occasion.

In an informal chat with media persons, Chief Whip of PML-N and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Aftab Ahmed Sheikh said some 151 PML-N members attended the meeting. He said all members apprised the Prime Minister about issues of their constituencies as general elections were nearer and fast approaching.

He said participants of meeting were of the views that there should not be political impasses in the country. The media should also avoid such baseless news of political confrontation in the country, he added.

Aftab said the current prevailing situation also demands that there should be complete political harmony in the country. Responding to a question, he said all constitutional institutions were working in their constitutional ambit.

Subsequently, a meeting of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Tuesday (October 3rd) would re-elect Nawaz Sharif as the party president.

He is likely to leave for London the next day on Wednesday to his Myafair residence.

Last month, the bill was passed by a Senate session chaired by chairman Raza Rabbani.

PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan, along with other opposition lawmakers, wanted to amend clause 203 of the bill. The clause allows a person who is ineligible to become a member of the parliament to head a political party.

At least 241 clauses of the bill were approved after voting in the upper house. 37 votes were cast in favour of the amendment in clause 203 while 38 votes opposed the crucial amendment.