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Senate adopts electoral reforms bill 2017

Paves way for Nawaz Sharif to head PML-N

Gulf News

Islamabad: The Upper House of Parliament on Friday adopted Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 after lawmakers discussed their reservations on Section 203. The bill has already been approved by the National Assembly.

The approval of the bill will not only introduce new policies for the 2018 general election but also pave the way for sacked premier Nawaz Sharif to become president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Out of 75 Senators, 38 voted in favour of the reforms bill while 37 were against it.

In fact, the bone of contention in electoral reforms bill was Section 203. The federal government succeeded in passing the bill by just one vote.

This one vote allowed the Senate to pass electoral reforms bill 2017 without amendment in Section 203. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had voiced their desired amendment in the reforms to permanently bar any person disqualified under articles 62 and 63 from being an office-bearer of a political party; however, such a condition is not enlisted in the bill.

Proviso submitted by PPP, Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) leaders suggested an amendment that reads, “Provided that the person shall not be appointed or serve as office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being, elected or chosen as Member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) under any law for the time being in force.”

Ex-PM Sharif was made to resign from PML-N presidency after disqualification — by Supreme Court ruling in Panama case — under Clause 5 (1) of the Political Parties Order 2002.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement sided with the ruling PML-N to ensure that Sharif gains back PML-N presidency. Raja Zafar UL Haq and Law Minister Zahid Hamid appreciated the MQM-P lawmakers at their seats.

Moreover, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani left the lower house when voting was held on Section 60 — regarding manifestos of MNA candidates — for a second time. He opined that since the Senate members chose to vote against his will, he shouldn’t preside over the session.