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Minister for Law, Farooq H. Naek. - YouTube videograb.

ISLAMABAD: The fate of wide-ranging changes in nomination forms for poll candidates proposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan hangs in the balance as the Ministry of Law has yet to send them to the president for approval.

Sources told Dawn that Law Minister Farooq H. Naek had expressed reservations over some clauses of the proposed amendments during his meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim on Thursday. He was of the opinion that certain clauses proposed in declarations to be submitted by candidates along with their nomination papers were already part of the law.

The minister cited a proposed amendment under which a candidate will be required to submit a statement on oath that he has neither ceased to be a citizen of Pakistan nor has he acquired any foreign nationality and a certificate that he will have no objection if information about his foreign citizenship is provided by a foreign state to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He then pointed out that a similar amendment to statements of assets and liabilities submitted to the ECP by lawmakers every year had already been approved by the president.

The CEC said time was too short and warranted immediate action because nomination papers after approval by the president were to be printed and sent to returning officers.

The law minister was asked to file a written statement on objections to the proposed amendments. He promised to do by the evening.

A senior ECP official told Dawn that the commission had not received any communication from the law ministry till late in the night. Law Minister Naek later told Dawn that his ministry was working on the document and it would be sent to the commission by Friday afternoon.

He said anything which was not in the purview of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution (qualification and disqualification clauses) should not be included in the nomination form.

He said the job of a returning officer was to see that a candidate was qualified or not to be elected as a member of the national or a provincial assembly.

Citing a column in the form under which a candidate is not only required to mention his educational qualification but also attach an attested copy, Mr Naek pointed out that BA degree was no more a requirement under the law.

The ECP has proposed the amendments to ensure that only people having financial integrity are allowed to enter the electoral race. Under the proposed amendments, candidates are required to provide details about the payment of income and agricultural taxes, foreign trips undertaken over the past three years, the number of their children studying abroad and description of residential houses, including their location, covered area and market value.

FUNDS: Finance Minister Saleem Mandviwalla and Secretary Abdul Khaliq held a meeting with CEC Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim on Thursday and promised to immediately release Rs1 billion to the ECP for election expenses. The commission has so far received Rs1bn against a demand of about Rs6bn.

Meanwhile, the ECP rejected a petition of former senator Safdar Abbasi in which he had challenged the authenticity of what he called ‘secretive’ intra-party elections held by the ruling People’s Party Parliamentarians last month.