Pakistan

Nawaz can now head PML-N as NA passes Election Bill 2017 amid opposition protest

ISLAMABAD:  Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legislators protested as National Assembly too passed Election Bill 2017 along with a controversial amendment paving way for former PM Nawaz Sharif to head the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), ARY News reported on Monday.

The bill, already passed by the upper house (Senate) paves way for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to head PML-N despite the fact that he is ineligible to hold a public office following a court verdict in July leading to his disqualification.

As Law Minister leader Zahid Hamid presented the bill, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi warned the ruling party that passage of the bill with the controversial amendment can be challenged in court and it is possible that the court declare it a violation of constitution.

Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed too criticized the move in his speech and termed the law an attack on democracy in Pakistan.

Later in the day, President Mamnoon Hussain signed the Election Reforms Bill 2017 making it into law.

Last month, the bill was passed by a Senate session chaired by chairman Raza Rabbani.

PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan, along with other opposition lawmakers, wanted to amend clause 203 of the bill. The clause allows a person who is ineligible to become a member of the parliament to head a political party.

At least 241 clauses of the bill were approved after voting in the upper house. 37 votes were cast in favour of the amendment in clause 203 while 38 votes opposed the crucial amendment.

Back in July, a five-judge Supreme Court bench disqualified then PM Nawaz Sharif in a unanimous verdict in the Panamagate case, thus cutting short his third stint in power.

Soon after the SC judgement, the PM House issued a terse statement saying that Nawaz Sharif, despite having reservations on the SC’s verdict, has stepped down from his post as the premier.

Sharif served as prime minister twice in the 1990s but failed to complete his tenure. In his second term he was ousted in October 1999 coup leading to a decade of exile. He won a third term as prime minister in 2013 general election.

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