Senate also passes bills to amend election, NAB laws

Law minister explains elections amendment bill doesn’t deprive Pak expats of voting right

ISLAMABAD   -   The Senate on Friday passed the two key bills that reversed controversial changes in the election laws made by the last PTI government and clipped powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) amid strong protest of the opposition PTI.

A day after both the bills sailed through the National Assembly in the absence of any strong opposition in the lower house, the upper house passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022 with a majority vote.

Both the bills will now be sent to President Dr Arif Alvi for his final signing before becoming acts of the parliament but this concurrence is not mandatory. The Elections (Amendment) Bill moved by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mutraza Javed Abbasi seeks to amend the Elections Act, 2017. Law Minister and Leader of the House Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar moved the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill that seeks to amend the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999. The two bills were taken into consideration at once without being referred to the standing committee concerned.

Both the bills that were present on the primary agenda list of the present ruling coalition have been passed amid uncertainty in the country on the survival of the federal government and ongoing speculations of the early elections.

Some lawmakers of the opposition PTI gathered in front of the main dais of Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani protesting over the consideration of the two bills and tore up the copies of the agenda before tossing paper pieces into air. They raised slogans of “imported government unacceptable” during the passage of the Elections Amendment Bill and of “No to NRO-II (National Reconciliation Ordinance)” when the NAB Bill sailed through the house.

The Elections (Amendment) Bill rolls back the changes made in the election law for use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general election and to give i-voting right to overseas Pakistanis while living in their resident country.

Before passage of the elections amendment bill, Leader of the Opposition Senator Dr Shahzad Waseem urged that it should be sent to the committee. “I on behalf of my party members and leadership say that we would not allow anyone to usurp the rights of overseas Pakistani,” he said. He added that the proposed law seeks to deprive “9 million overseas Pakistanis of their right to vote.” Secondly, he said that an amendment about introduction of EVMs made by the last PTI government was meant to stop rigging in the election.

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