Pakistan’s NA passes bill limiting disqualification of lawmakers to 5 years, paving way for Nawaz’s return

Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a bill on June 25 (Sunday) that limited the disqualification of lawmakers for a period of up to five years. This move opens the way for those barred for life from running for public office.

The bill titled ‘Elections (Amendment) Bill 2023’ was presented in the National Assembly by Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for voting. The bill was passed by the National Assem­bly on Sunday after its approval from the upper house of parliament, the Senate.

The bill also empowers the Election Commi­ssion of Pakistan to unilaterally fix the date for elections and without the president’s assent.

What does the bill suggest?

According to the amendment to Section 232 (Qualifications and Disqualifications) of the Elections Act, the bill reads that a permanent bar or disqualification of a member is against “the letter and spirit of Islam” as well as the Constitution. The bill was introduced to ensure a “fair trial and due process, and right of appeal and limit the period of disqualification in cases relating to a declaration referred to in paragraph (f) of clause (1) of Article 62”.

A copy of the bill reads that the disqualification of a person “to be elected, chosen or to remain as a member of the Parliament or provincial assembly under paragraph (f) of clause (1) of Article 62 of the Constitution shall be for a period not exceeding five years from the declaration of the court of law in that regard and such declaration shall be subject to the due process of law.”

What next? The bill now requires the final nod of President Dr Arif Alvi, who is presently in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. The bill has already been approved by Senate on June 16.

Who opposed it? JI lawmaker Maulana Akbar Chitrali was the lone lawmaker who opposed its approval.

The opposition members called the bill s ‘person-specific legislation’ which would benefit Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) top leader Nawaz Sharif and newly-for­med Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) patron Jahangir Khan Tareen. 

Bill to pave way for Nawaz Sharif’s return to politics

The bill could pave the way for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to return to electoral politics.

Sharif, a former three-time prime minister, was disqualified in July 2017, by Pakistan’s apex court after months of hearings in a case instigated by the “Panama Papers” leaks, related to alleged corruption during Sharif’s previous two terms in office.

Nawaz-Zardari meeting in UAE

The development takes place as Nawaz Sharif is in Dubai with his daughter, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, to hold an important meeting to discuss Pakistan’s political situation.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) top leaders Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari have also reached Dubai where they are expected to hold meetings with PML-N’s Nawaz Sharif, Geo News reported. News reports suggest that Zardari had asked his party members to begin preparations for the polls expected to be held later this year as the National Assembly is near­ing the end of its five-year term.

PML-N leaders have said Sharif would return to lead the party before general elections in October, which has lost several by-elections over the past year to former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

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