October 11 , 2017

Senate unanimously passes amendments in Election Act 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed amendments in the Elections Act 2017, restoring Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (finality of Prophethood) declaration and oath for candidates filing nomination to contest polls, as opposition senators insisted on formation of a commission to fix responsibility for the earlier ‘controversial changes.’

Like the National Assembly, the Senate also restored two clauses on the status of Qadianis in their original form as contained in the Conduct of General Elections Act 2002, which is now part of the Election Bill, 2107. The opposition and treasury lawmakers lauded the government for realising the sensitivity of the matter and corrected the wrong. However, they called for fixing of responsibility for affecting the oath.

Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, who was presiding over the opposition’s requisitioned session, said that the changes were the result of misunderstanding and asserted that the finality of prophethood is part of the faith.

The sentence, “I do hereby solemnly swear” will now stand restored with the amendment. The House also restored clauses 7-B and 7-C of the conduct of elections order 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No. 7 of 2002, which had gone with the repeal of the entire Order). These clauses pertain to the status of Qadianis.

As the Law Minister Zahid Hamid rose to move that the bill to amend the Elections Act 2017 (The Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017, as passed by the National Assembly, be taken into consideration, the opposition senators stepped into the House.

After the adoption of the bill, JUI-Fazl Senator Hafiz Hamdullah lauded the timely correction and said that if the attackers of the GHQs could be sentenced, then why not for anyone touching the sensitive law. He warned that if anyone tried to attack the oath, it would tantamount to ‘inviting death’. He pointed out the reaction across Pakistan had already been seen by all and proposed that the sentence, for anyone trying to change the finality of the Prophethood, should also be death.

PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid said that a lie was told in the House and a misstatement was made. This prompted Senator Hamdullah to clarify and he said that he would not say anything to vitiate the environment in the Senate and recalled on September 22, he had brought the related amendment, but was alone at that and today the entire opposition was with him on this matter.

He claimed it was on the Senate record that he had opposed amendment in the oath but was alone that day. PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that whatever happened, responsibility must be fixed for that and called for formation of a commission in this connection. Jamaat-e-Islami’s Senator Sirajul Haq contended that deepest love for Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and finality of the Prophethood is the faith.

Law minister said it was unfortunate that one point was missed out in the Elections Bill, which was prepared after hard work, spanning over three years that just could not even be imagined. He said consultations were under way to make clause 7B and 7C part of the main act. He thanked all the political partied for extending cooperation in passage of the bill. He insisted that it was wrong to give the impression that it was the government mistake and that the Elections Bill was a collective responsibility.



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