ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly Thursday unanimously passed ‘The Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017’, to amend ‘The election act 2017’ by restoring the word “Oath” instead of “Declaration” in the nomination paper about the finality of Prophethood (Khatm-e-Nabuwat).
The MNAs demanded complete parliamentary enquiry to punish the responsible people behind it. The house for sometime echoed with the slogan of Kalma Kalma Tayyab:(Laa ilaaha illal Lahoo, Mohammadur Rasoolullah) chanted by some opposition lawmakers.
The amendment in the recently passed bill [‘The election act 2017’] created a stir in the country, consequently the NA speaker with the consultation of parliamentary party’s heads jointly decided to restore it.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on last Wednesday also asked former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to immediately sack the people responsible for making changes in the law.
The statement of objects and reasons of the amended bill, moved by Minister for Law Zahid Hamid says: “in order to avoid controversy, there is a consensus among the political parties in the National Assembly that the original text of ‘Declaration and oath by the person nominated”, included in original form-1A should be restored in toto”.
“Misgiving have also been expressed about the omission of articles 7B and 7C consequent upon the upon the repeal of the conduct of ‘General Election Order, 2002’ (Chief Executive order No.7 of 2002). Again to avoid further controversy, there is consensus amongst the political parties that the provisions of articles 7B and 7C ibid be retained through amendment in section 241 of the ‘Election Act, 2017,” it added.
According to ‘the Elections Act 2017’, the words in Form-A “I solemnly swear” had been replaced with “I believe” in a clause relating to a candidate’s belief in the finality of the prophethood and it had been made not applicable to non-Muslim candidates.
Minister for Law Zahid Hamid, after moving the amendment, said that it was decided unanimously to amend ‘The election act 2017’ by restoring the word “Oath” instead of “Declaration” in the nomination paper about finality of Prophethood (Khatm-e-Nabuwat). “We even cannot think about making changes in finality of Prophethood (Khatm-e-Nabuwat),” he said after three years efforts to read out eight laws this bill formed. “This bill was thoroughly debated in the parliamentary committee as it was not a bill of a single person or party,” Minister said while avoiding to go into further detail.
He said the ‘declaration’ contained in the nominations papers has been restored in its original form through the amendment in the Act.
Former prime minister Zafarullah Jamali , taking the floor, criticised Minister for Law Zahid Hamid about the mistake in the bill. “I was not expecting it from you [Zahid Hamid]. Either you haven’t read it or have instruction to do it,” Jamali commented.
He said Chief Minister Shahbaz had asked former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to immediately sack responsible for making changes in the law. “Whosoever should be punished,” he said.
Jamali also asked the government not to go for any confrontation with the country’s institutions. “I may not come again in this house due to bad health,” he said criticising the functioning of the current assemblies.
PPP’s Naveed Qamar, on his turn, was also seemed not ready to accept the amendment in ‘The election act 2017’ as mere a clerical mistake. “Someone tried to be smarter...It was not discussed in any committee,” he said.
PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi, on his turn, said one mistake has jolted the country. “It hurts emotions of the people in the country, as this was not acceptable to anyone,” he said.
Qureshi also asked the government to determine who was responsible for it. “How it was done,” he said supporting the demand of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to thoroughly investigate the matter.
About Minister IPC Riaz Pirzada’s walkout, he said it was for the first time in the parliamentary history that a sitting minister left the house in protest.
MQM’s Sheikh Salahuddin viewed that responsibility should be fixed in this connection. “It was appreciable that amendment was passed on it,” he said.
Jamaat Islami’s Tariq Ullah said that there was a need for complete enquiry into the matter. About the word ‘declaration’ in the act, he said, a person cannot be punished on word ‘declaration’ but on ‘oath’. “We have not seen this amendment during a discussion on this bill in the committee,” he said.
The incumbent government the other day (Monday) adopted the ‘Election Bill 2017’ in the National Assembly amid strong protests from the opposition.
The bill features a controversial amendment that allows the politicians disqualified from holding public office to head a political party.
NA passes bill to restore Khatm-e-Nabuwat oath