ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously adopted amendments to the recently passed Elections Act, 2017, restoring the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat declaration for candidates, as well as the two clauses on the status of Ahmadis, in their original form.

The amendments were tabled by Law Minister Zahid Hamid a day after Speaker Ayaz Sadiq admitted that the change was due to a clerical error, and was approved unanimously.

The house also restored Clauses 7-B and 7-C of the Conduct of Elections Order, 2002, which had been removed with the repeal of the entire order. These clauses pertain to the status of Ahmadis.

Speaking on a point of order, PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar said it was not appropriate to term the change in the declaration a clerical mistake. He said the matter had never been discussed before the Parliamentary Comm­ittee on Electoral Reforms and it was not fair to attribute this blunder to the committee.

Former prime minister Zafarullah Jamali sought action against those responsible for the controversial amendment.

PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he couldn’t understand why the declaration had been changed.

MQM’s Sheikh Salahuddin alleged that this was deliberately done to appease certain ‘masters’.

Sahibzada Tariqullah of Jamaat-i-Islami called for an inquiry to fix responsibility for the blunder.

Clause 7B reads: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 (XXI of 1974), the Electoral Rolls, Rules, 1974, or any other law for the time being in force, including the Forms prescribed for preparation of electoral rolls on joint electorate basis in pursuance of Article 7 of the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No. 7 of 2002), the status of Quadiani Group or the Lahori Group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name) or a person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last of the prophets or claimed or claims to be a prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after Muhammad (peace be upon him) or recognises such a claimant as a prophet or religious reformer shall remain the same as provided in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.”

Clause 7C reads: “If a person has got himself enrolled as voter and objection is filed before the Revising Authority notified under the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974, within ten days from issuance of the Conduct of General Elections (Second Amendment) Order, 2002, that such a voter is not a Muslim, the Revising Authority shall issue a notice to him to appear before it within fifteen days and require him to sign a declaration regarding his belief about the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Form-IV prescribed under the Electoral Rolls Rules, 1974. In case he refuses to sign the declaration as aforesaid, he shall be deemed to be a non-Muslim and his name shall be deleted from the joint electoral rolls and added to a supplementary list of voters in the same electoral area as non-Muslim. In case the voter does not turn up in spite of service of notice, an ex parte order may be passed against him.”

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2017