NA rejects bill seeking to bar disqualified person from heading political parties

  • Naveed Qamar, who presented the bill says the “person-specific” amendment to Election Bill 2017 which allows a disqualified person to lead political party ruins the whole system of governance
  • A total of 163 members in the House ruled against the motion while 98 members have voted in its favour
Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday rejected the bill after 163 members voted against the proposed legislation, which sought to restrict disqualified parliamentarians from heading a political party.

Leading opposition party in the National Assembly, Pakistan Peoples Party’s member Naveed Qamar had earlier presented a bill in the Assembly.

The bill seeks to restrict disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif from heading the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

A total of 163 members in the House ruled against the motion while 98 members have voted in its favour, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq announced.

The bill was tabled days after deposed premier Nawaz Sharif re-election as head of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The PML-N was represented in the House today by 167 members. The government’s allies included the JUI-F, the PML-F and the PkMAP with 13, five and three representatives, respectively.

Members of the opposition parties included the 45 of the PPP, 33 of the PTI, 24 of the MQM, four of the JI and two each of the PML-Q and the ANP.

Pakistan’s Senate and National Assembly last month 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).

Naveed Qamar, who presented the bill said that the “person-specific” amendment to the Election Bill 2017 which allows a disqualified person to lead political party ruins the whole system of governance.

He questioned how parliament can allow a disqualified person to dictate policy to members of the house.

“Someone who is not Sadiq and Ameen in the view of the apex court should not be eligible to hold party office,” PTI Vice President Shah Mehmood Qureshi said while throwing his support behind the bill.

He said the rule had been introduced because “a party head controls the party’s policies” and criticised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for allowing it to be dismantled, saying: “It is evident that the incumbent prime minister toes the line of the former prime minister.”

“The insertion of Section 203 is a direct confrontation with the Supreme Court and in conflict with the Constitution,” he said.

Qureshi said that any legislation which only facilitates a particular individual cannot be termed “good legislation”.

“Your party has been ruling for the past 30 years. Isn’t there one person [in your party] who is eligible [to head it] according to Article 62 [of the Constitution]?” he asked.

“Can you not even trust your brother? Can you not trust a senior parliamentarian like Nisar Ali Khan?” Qureshi added.

As soon as the opposition’s bill was rejected by the house, former PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif tweeted that “for the first time in Pakistan, democracy is foiling one conspiracy after another”.

“I salute those who stayed on Nawaz Sharif’s side despite pressure and threats,” added Maryam Nawaz.

The National Assembly Session has been prorogued for an indefinite period after the development.