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NA unanimously passes 20th Amendment bill

February 14, 2012

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The amended bill was meant to shield the 28 lawmakers elected in by-polls after the passage of 18 Amendment. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The 20th Constitutional Amendment bill has been passed unanimously by the National Assembly on Tuesday, DawnNews reported.

The bill was tabled by Law Minister Maula Bakhsh Chandio.

Formation of a caretaker setup with consensus and increment of three years in Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members’ tenure has now been attained with passage of the bill.

The amended bill was also seeking to shield the 28 lawmakers elected in by-polls after the passage of 18 Amendment.

Membership of 28 senators and legislators of national and provincial assemblies had been suspended.

The Supreme Court had questioned the legal status of the lawmakers who had been elected in by-elections held at a time when the ECP was incomplete due to non-appointment of its members as required under the 18th Amendment.

Speaking during the session, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said an unbiased caretaker setup will be formed through the 20th amendment which will not represent any political party and will make free and fair elections possible in the country.

He said that autocratic forces do not want political stability in the country and vowed to face them with courage. “Petroleum prices will be lowered,” he added.

Gilani said that the federal cabinet has approved the bill unanimously after prolonged consultations with the opposition.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader in NA Cahudhry Nisar Ali Khan objected presentation of the bill without consulting the opposition.

He also said that the amendment in constitution was a national issue however some non-democratic forces and political parties were trying to make it look like a rift between PPP and PML-N. “All details must be publicised…to remove all vagueness,” he added.

He said that his party talks about formation of a free and independent election commission and the authorities being given to it through 20th amendment in the constitution has never been given to any election commission in the world.

Moreover, Nisar told the house that the five-member election commission was being powered to take a decision if the government and the opposition could not agree upon structure of the caretaker setup.