Law bulldozed in Pakistan


In Pakistan, the PML-N Government on Monday bulldozed the amended Election Bill 2017 through the National Assembly and earlier in Senate, the upper house, despite strong protests from opposition lawmakers. 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 was passed amidst a ruckus as opposition lawmakers protested what they saw as a law designed to accommodate a single individual – ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Enraged 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. This controversial bill would see Nawaz Sharif reinstated as party chief of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League after he was disqualified by a Supreme Court bench. 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. The 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.
Expressing his apprehensions and dire consequences of the new law, PTI leader 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. He demanded exclusion of Section 203 in the draft. He challenged the amended law and said that the provision would be challenged in the courts. Opposition members 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.” It is statedthat the clause pertaining to the eligibility of parliamentarians to hold party office was being removed solely to protect ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The 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 Constitution 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. Members of the opposition chanted slogans and protested against the proceedings of the House.
By passing the bill, the ruling PML-N on Monday cleared the way for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to be re-elected as the party’s president. Earlier, during a meeting of the party’s Central Working Committee (CWC), PML-N leaders agreed to amend the party’s constitution so that any person could assume the presidency even if that person did not hold public office. Nawaz had appeared before the accountability court early on Monday after being summoned in connection with three graft cases prepared by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against him and his family. However, he was not formally charged with a crime as his lawyer argued that all of the accused in the case must be present in court before they could be indicted. The accused – Nawaz; his children Hussain, Hassan, and Maryam; and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar – are now expected to appear on October 9 to be formally indicted. The court has issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the men and a bailable warrant for Maryam, likely keeping in mind that she may need to stay with her ailing mother in London.
President Mamnoon Hussain, who is also choice of disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharf, signed the bill soon after its approval at National Assembly and now it has become a law which will immediately benefit to only one person i.e. Nawaz Sharif himself.