NA approves Electoral Reforms Bill 2017

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 has been approved in the National Assembly on Monday (October 2) amid ruckus by the opposition members in Assembly.

Among the bill’s clauses is a controversial amendment that will allow politicians disqualified from holding public office to head a political party.

The bill when tabled in the Assembly had provoked strong protests from the opposition, as its members started tearing up the copies of the bill and chanted slogans against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

However, law minister Zahid Hamid tabled the bill in the parliament and the opposition members tore copies of the bill and circled National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq s dais to record their protest.

After the speaker refused to allow Khursheed Shah to speak, opposition members began shouting anti-government slogans and also tore copies of the bill.

Addressing the House, 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.

PTI vice chairman demanded exclusion of Section 203 in the draft. Qureshi said that the provision would be challenged in the courts. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Clause 203 of the legislation, which pertains to the eligibility of persons to hold office in a political party, is “against the spirit of the Constitution.” Qureshi said that the clause pertaining to the eligibility of parliamentarians to hold party office was being removed solely to protect ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The PTI leader added that omission of the clause ? which states that any person ineligible to hold office as an MNA is also ineligible to hold the position of head of a political party ? was contrary to the Consitution as it would allow a disqualified individual to take charge of political affairs of a party.

“The Constitution says that any person not qualified under Article 62 and 63 (cannot hold office),” Qureshi said, adding that the Supreme Court had set precedent on the matter by disqualifying Nawaz under Article 62(1)(f) in the Panama Papers case.

Urging the government to reconsider the bill and include the omitted clause, Qureshi said that if the bill was passed in its present form, his party would approach the courts.

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

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed, amid chants of ‘shame shame’ from the PML-N lawmakers, addressed the lawmakers and said that the House was moving to risk democracy by mending the laws for a person.

Sheikh Rashid stated that democracy would suffer if the bill was passed.

“This law is being passed for one person,” Rasheed said. “I am going to the Supreme Court,” he declared.

“We know what games they [the ruling party] are going to play in the country,” Rasheed said.

He claimed that the government was going to play with the dignity of the polls in Pakistan.

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

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

“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.

Tariqullah said that it was condemnable that the legislation could allow a person who had been disqualified by the Supreme Court to hold office.