Opposition tables Elections Act 2017 Amendment Bill in NA

President summons National Assembly session today

ISLAMABAD: Opposition in National Assembly (NA) has tabled an amendment bill regarding clause 203 of the Elections Act 2017 concerning disqualified lawmakers who continue to lead a political party in Pakistan.
The bill was earlier tabled in Senate and was adopted with 49 votes in favour and 18 votes against it.
The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was put forth by Naveed Qamar of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). He said that a lawmaker who is barred to attend sessions of National Assembly by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) cannot lead a political party as it is against the Constitution of Pakistan.
MNA Qamar said that person-specific amendments in the constitution damage the system of the country.
An executive that is not allowed to attend proceedings of the parliament should not be permitted to lead a political party. “Democracy should mean rule of law, it should mean that we respect the institutions [and], we follow the constitution,” Qamar added.
PTI vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi took the mic after MNA Qamar presented the bill and said: “The law minister has every right to oppose the bill. This amendment was passed by the joint opposition in the Senate. This motion has been moved by joint oppositon collectively and members should be allowed to present a counter argument before the bill is put to vote.
“Please can we understand what is being discussed?” Qureshi added.
The PTI vice-chairman said that there is a rationale behind the law that bars disqualified politicians to lead political fronts. He urged the participants present to pay heed and understand the rationale behind the law and vote to have the amendment passed.
“In a parliamentary democracy, leader of a political party regulates and controls the policy,” Qureshi added saying that in the current setup, a disqualified premier is aiding formation of policies which is against the spirit of the constitution.
Vice-chairman of the political party said: “Parliamentary parties and the parliament are equally valuable components of a parliamentary democracy.”
Shah accused the members belonging of PML-N following an agenda of protecting one person and not making decisions for the bigger cause of progress of Pakistan. Our constitution believes in trichotomy of powers; judicial branch, the parliamentary branch and the legislators. He further said that the government is disruption the trichotomous force.
Law minister said that disqualification clauses of Section 5 were laid in Political Parties Act 1962 during tenure of a dictator and were expunged by the democratic government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1975, founder of the party that has tabled the bill today.
The 203 clause was re-added to the Act in the years that followed. The clause was also restored in the Political Parties (Amendment) Act 2002, he said.
Hamid said that a parliamentary committee was formed in 2014 to recommended electoral reforms to be merged in one law. He said that he does not want to embarass any lawmaker but on November 17, 2014, a meeting omitted the said clause and the participants were Farooq Ahmed Naik, Naveed Qamar, Shazia Marri, Naeema Kishwer and Anusha Rehman Khan among others.
It should noted here that the bill today is tabled by Naveed Qamar.
Before the bill was tabled today, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that it was a sight to see as the session never had as many members present in sessions convened in the recent past.
Qureshi criticised the federally ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) by rhetorically asking what made its members attend the session today as they are habitual of skipping NA meetings for required legislation.
Ground reporters have said that PTI chief Imran Khan among some members of the party are absent and that the opposition has lost the number game for today’s session as the government has more votes to have the amendment bill rejected once tabled.
Spokesperson for PTI, Naeemul Haq said that the political party has extended support to the amendment bill that is to be tabled by PPP in the session today.
Earlier in the day, both the government and the opposition members convened separate meetings and deliberated over the bill.
NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was telephoned by former premier Nawaz Sharif who tasked him to approach members of PML-N to have them ensure their presence in the session today.
The speaker had key members of the party over for luncheon and conveyed disqualified premier’s word. Reportedly, some 60 member skipped the luncheon including those were former interior minister Nisar Ali Khan and Hamza Shehbaz.
On the other hand, opposition leader in NA Khurshid Shah presided over a meeting of members belonging to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQMP) and deliberated over the amendment bill.
Shah directed senior Members of National Assembly (MNA) occupying the opposition benches to ensure presence of 119 members during the session to vote for the bill.


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