Updated Dec 20, 2017 11:26pm

NA passes bill to restore Khatm-i-Naboowat declaration to original form in Elections Act 2017

Inamullah Khattak | Nadir Guramani

The National Assembly on Thursday passed the Elections Reforms Amendment Bill 2017, tabled by Law Minister Zahid Hamid, that amends the recently-passed Elections Act 2017 to restore a Khatm-i-Naboowat oath lawmakers are required to take back to its original state.

Parliamentarians on Tuesday had pointed out that the wordings of Form-A, which is submitted at the time of election by candidates, had been changed so that it had been turned into a declaration form instead of an affidavit, which puts a candidate under oath.

Through the Elections Act 2017, the words in Form-A “I solemnly swear” had been replaced with “I believe” in a clause relating to a candidate's belief in the finality of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad and it had been made not applicable to non-Muslim candidates.

Sections 7B and 7C of The Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002, which relate to the status of Ahmedis, had also been omitted from Elections Act 2017.

Section 7B says that the status of Ahmedis remains as stated in the Constitution of Pakistan, while section 7C states that if an enrolled voter's belief in the finality of Prophet Muhammad's prophethood is contended, they shall have to sign a declaration stating so, failing which their "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."

Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq had accepted the changes on Wednesday as "a clerical error" after parliamentary leaders decided to restore the declaration and the sections to their original form.

Hamid appreciated the efforts of parliamentary leaders in ensuring that the amendment was passed and said that it was decided to rectify the mistake as soon as it was noticed.

Former prime minister Mir Zafrullah Jamali blamed Hamid for the change in the Khatm-i-Naboowat laws while Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Shah Mehmood Qureshi also asked the government to determine who was responsible for it.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday had also asked Nawaz Sharif to sack those responsible for controversial changes in the law.

Minister walks out over 'fabricated IB list'

During the NA session, Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada walked out in protest against a list of lawmakers suspected of links to banned groups allegedly compiled by the IB on former premier Nawaz Sharif's orders.

The IB has denied issuing any such list, and has filed a notice with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority against the TV channel that first ran the news report.

Pirzada, whose name was on the list, today demanded Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi shed some clarity on the situation and answer whether he is regarded as a terrorist or not.

Other lawmakers named in the "fabricated" list also walked out with him.

Following the incident, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq asked Pirzada to meet him in his chamber, along with the IB director general, to discuss the issue, reminding the lawmaker that the IB had already rejected the list.

However, Pirzada turned down the offer, calling for a senior minister to inform the House that no such list had been requested by the intelligence body, adding that he did not trust the IB.

"If I am a terrorist, why am I a minister? I propose that a senior minister tells the House that the list was not initiated," he said.

Later, Sadiq met with the DG IB who briefed him on the issue in his chambers at Parliament House.

Sadiq informed him that a number of MNAs have been receiving threats owing to their names being on the list. According to sources, the DG IB assured him that no such list had been issued by it.

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